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Psychiatry. Changes to the National Mental Health Program. Doctor Marek Balicki leaves

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The National Mental Health Program, launched four years ago, was supposed to be a way to effectively combat the mental problems of Poles. The plan to overcome the crisis in Polish psychiatry has just expired. It is no longer headed by the former Minister of Health, Marek Balicki. Material of the magazine “Polska i Świat”.

Two million people suffering from depression, 800,000 with bipolar disorder, 400,000 schizophrenics – this is only a partial picture of mental illness in Poland. The situation has been made worse by COVID-19, a complication of which is depression.

– The most common mental disorders that we encounter in hospitals and clinics or private offices are anxiety disorders, depressive disorders and addictions – points out Prof. Piotr Gałecki, head of the Department of Adult Psychiatry, Medical University of Lodz.


The way to effectively combat the mental problems of Poles is to be the National Mental Health Program launched four years ago by the government. Its core is the Mental Health Centers, which are to be located in each district.

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– You no longer wait six months for an appointment, only the patient is seen within 72 hours. There is a mental health clinic, day ward and community treatment team on site, and what was established in September was an application and coordination point – says Agnieszka Witkowska-Świech from the Małopolska-Południe Mental Health Center in Myślenice.

In the reporting and coordination points of mental health centers, a psychiatrist sets up an initial action plan – prescribing outpatient, community, day or 24-hour treatment. – Some centers have groups that help you write your CV and find a job. It is about bringing the patient back to life, explains Katarzyna Szczebowska from the Pilot Office of the National Mental Health Program.

Marek Balicki resigns

In the last three years, out of 314 poviats and 66 cities with poviat status, only 33 Mental Health Centers were established. Until August, the former Minister of Health, Marek Balicki, was the head of the Program Pilot Office. He resigned, arguing that the reform had slowed down.

“The main reason for my resignation was the announcement of the Minister of Health about the appointment of a team of officials to define a new strategy for the reform of psychiatric care and the future functioning of the Mental Health Centers. I could not agree to change the current direction of the reform” – explained Dr. Marek Balicki.

Doctor Marek BalickiWojciech Olkuśnik / PAP

– In fact, there were many misunderstandings related to the continuation of the reform. In fact, the reform accelerated, says Dr. Anna Depukat, the head of the Pilot Office of the National Defense Agency.

The Minister of Health dismisses the chairman of the Mental Health Council

Another person who is no longer working on the reform of Polish psychiatry is a man who contributed greatly to it – professor Jacek Wciórka. Health Minister Adam Niedzielski dismissed him from the position of chairman of the Mental Health Council.

– He was a representative, or rather the chairman of the council, whose task is to advise the minister, and at the same time he said that the ministry was involved in the destruction of this reform, which is, which is absolutely untrue, says the deputy director of the public health department of the Ministry of Health, Dorota Olczyk.

A representative of the Ministry of Health announced that a mental health center will be in each district – in six years at the most.

Author:Maria Mikołajewska

Main photo source: Wojciech Olkuśnik / PAP

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