9th Conference European Sociological Association

RS16 Russia and Its European Identity

2009-09-03 15:30:00 2009-09-03 17:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 15:30 - 17:00 Public Sociology in a Civil Environment in Russia Building II, C4.05

Changes and continuity in mental health policy of post-soviet Russia

The aim of the research was to analyze developments in mental health policy of Post-Soviet Russia. The research is based on a qualitative analysis of 21 health policy documents of the Russian Federation published during the years 1992-2006. In our research we consider health policy documents as socially constructed texts that are created in certain historical, social and cultural circumstances. The Soviet Period is considered as a historical context for contemporary mental health policy in Russia. The results demonstrate that post-soviet documents discuss the new principles in terms of an intention to follow the international state-of-the-art in regard to citizen's and patient's rights and as an attempt to overcome old approaches related to the ineffectiveness of the existing health system.The discourse on patient's rights is one of the central themes in the research material. This can be interpreted as a sign that paternalistic social norms in relationship to mentally ill people have changed. The new societal values reflected in the documents emphasize strengthening individual autonomy and dignity. However, anti-stigmatization measures e.g. through public awareness activities are not yet in the center of mental health policy in Russia today; neither are service users actively invited to influence policies. Despite this, the concept of empowerment can be seen as a core idea when individual rights in mental health care and promotion are addressed in the policy papers, because the protection of human rights and social inclusion are closely related to enabling individuals to take control of their lives. The lack of discussion on the active participation of service users could be considered as a reminiscent of the Soviet health care system with its typically passive role assigned to ordinary people.