The Czech government and medical community are addressing the acute problem of a shortage of child psychiatrists. In the General University Hospital (VFN) in Prague, a specialized ward for mentally ill children will be established to accommodate the rapidly increasing number of cases. Additionally, the daycare facility is expected to expand. The Minister of Health, Vlastimil Válek (TOP 09), and the director of VFN, David Feltl, made this announcement. The Ministry of Health also intends to prepare a crisis plan for an overall increase in psychiatrists.
The hospital plans to invest 140 million Czech crowns in expanding child psychiatric care. The reconstruction of the existing outdated spaces of the psychiatric clinic will be carried out in stages. “Approximately 90 million crowns in funding will be allocated to provide patients with comfortable facilities that meet modern requirements for outpatient care, emphasizing a certain level of privacy,” said Feltl. An additional 50 million crowns will be allocated to construct a ward. However, the hospital management did not disclose the expected timeline for the completion of the reconstruction.
“In the course of healthcare reform, the need for psychiatrists was overlooked. When I took office as the Minister, I knew all child psychiatrists by name,” Minister Válek stated with a touch of irony. The construction of children’s beds is deemed essential, according to him. “Within residential programs for the next year, we will support child psychiatry and adult psychiatry. Accessibility must be widespread,” added the Minister, emphasizing the importance of adolescent psychiatry. The number of adolescents in need of psychiatric care is increasing significantly.
This statement was supported by the head of the psychiatric clinic at the hospital, Martin Anders. “The blame lies with social media, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the stressful period surrounding the war in Ukraine,” he said. He also mentioned that the hospital previously had a ward for mentally ill children. “Due to lack of interest, we closed it, but now we need to revive it,” added Anders.
Detoxification: 125 Children and Adolescents Admitted This Year
Eight patients, aged 14 to 18, attended the daily care facility in the Prague hospital. They come in from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and suffer from depression, anxiety, phobias, or eating disorders.
According to psychologist Tereza Podávková, the daily care facility is not recommended for patients with suicidal tendencies or those addicted to substances. These individuals receive treatment at the detoxification center, which has been operating in the hospital for two and a half years and has eight beds – four for girls and four for boys. 125 children and adolescents have been treated there this year, compared to 212 last year.
“Their average age is 16, and they are most commonly dependent on methamphetamine and marijuana,” said the head physician of the center, Marek Hajný. Only one-third of them come from Prague: due to a lack of capacity throughout the Czech Republic, children and adolescents from all over the country come to the Prague hospital for treatment.
The inadequate facilities are the biggest problem faced by the center, as the detoxification center for children is located in the same building as the women’s psychiatric ward.