Challenges of prolonged transition from totalitarian system to liberal democracy
Keywords:<i>persons with mental disabilities</i>, <i>Soviet Union</i>, <i>large residential social care institutions</i>, <i>European Union Structural Funds</i>
This article presents a unique model of care for persons with mental disabilities in Eastern and Central Europe which combines the influential effects of the former Soviet system with selectively chosen components of modern mental health policy and services. During Soviet times large residential social care institutions took physical care of individuals with mental disabilities while isolating them from the rest of society. These institutions reflected the ideological Soviet system of social assistance, the principles of ‘defectology’, and the stigmatization of those with mental disabilities. For two decades, this system has stubbornly resisted attempts to promote change. Investments from the European Union Structural Funds actually strengthened the positions of large residential institutions over and above modern community care, AND Institutional culture and a tradition of exclusion remain strong.