Most modern psychiatric facility in Central Europe opens near Prague

At the opening ceremony, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala spoke about the need to improve Czechia's mental health services.

Thomas Smith ČTK

Written by Thomas SmithČTK Published on 21.06.2023 11:00:00 (updated on 21.06.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

A brand new psychiatric unit that opened Tuesday in Beroun, Central Bohemia is possibly the most modern and advanced psychiatric facility in Central Europe. Located in the Beroun Rehabilitation Hospital, the center is set to accommodate over 200 patients and provide around 300 jobs. It cost around CZK 1.2 billion to build.

At the center’s opening, Minister of Health Vlastimil Válek pointed out that the Central Bohemian Region has so far lacked a large psychiatric facility. 

Various types of therapy and specialized care

The new center will provide various types of facilities, including art and music therapy, a sauna, virtual-reality devices, and a gym. At present, it provides inpatient care and plans to open an acute, emergency service in 2023 according to its website. The facility says that it has a contractual relationship with all health insurance companies.

"We are bringing several fundamental care innovations. We concentrate good practices from many other facilities in one place. New technologies will also be an advantage. For example, we are proud of [our use of] circadian biodynamic lighting,” said a psychiatrist who will work at the center, Martin Hollý.

Válek said that the new unity is funded via private sources – this is a rarity, he says, because “psychiatry is not seen as a field that is economically profitable for a private entrepreneur.” He also explained that many hospitals technically lose money on psychiatric wards.

"Even though the reform of psychiatric care has been underway in the Czech Republic for several years, we are still struggling with problems. One of the most serious is the insufficient capacity of workplaces”   

Prime Minister Petr Fiala

AKESO Holding, which belongs to Greek businessman Sotirios Zavalianis, is the owner of the hospital. AKESO also runs the Hořovice hospital, the Multiscan Pardubice radiology and oncology center, and a diagnostic center in Prague's Nové Butovice area.

Czechia's mental health struggles

According to statistics, one in five Czechs suffer from some form of mental illness during their lifetimes, but not even half of those who are unwell receive professional care. Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala also mentioned that mental health care has long been one of the weakest areas of the Czech healthcare system. 

In 2021, research showed that about 700,000 people in Czechia were diagnosed with a psychiatric issue. According to Peter Winkler, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illness today accounts for roughly 15 percent of all domestic illnesses. Today, about one in 10 women and 6 percent of all men suffer from an anxiety disorder or depression.

The opening of the center at least partially alleviates Central Bohemia’s struggles with tackling mental health issues – the government and public will hope that future such facilities will open nationwide.

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