Only 6% of Czechs seek the support of experts for mental health issues. Credit: Freepik.

Only 6 Percent of Czechs Seek Expert Support For Mental Health Issues

Sixty percent of Czechs are solving their mental health problems by self-help, 30 percent ask their friends and only 6 percent consult experts. This is according to a survey conducted by the G82 and Simply 5 agencies for the Nevypust dusi company and T-Mobile, the results of which were released today as part of the “Czechia in Data” project.

In the case of children, parents want to seek professional help more frequently, but they are limited by a significant shortage of child psychiatrists and psychologists in the Czech Republic.

“There is a significant gap between the care need and its actual consumption,” said Pavel Mohr, deputy director of therapeutic care at the Czech Mental Health Institute (NUDZ).

The NUDZ study shows that 83 percent of people who meet the criteria for mental disorders are not treated.

Marie Salonova, head of Nevypust dusi (Don’t Give Up the Ghost), points to the persisting stigmatisation of mental diseases. “Many people fear to seek help because they have a feeling they would have to publicly admit that they or their children are suffering from mental problems,” she said.

Parents sometimes fail to recognize the initial symptoms of their children’s psychological problems, and thus may trivialise them, she noted. They are not always aware of all the options for support either.

The NUDZ study shows that 69 percent of people with anxiety disorders, 77 percent of those with disorders linked to addictive substances (rising to 93 percent for alcohol addicts) do not seek psychiatric or psychological services. However, these figures are decreasing thanks to the raised public awareness during the COVID-19 pandemic, when mental health was more discussed.

Nevertheless, they still meet with limited capacity among psychiatrists and psychologists, Mohr pointed out. Waiting times for appointments can be up to months, as there are nine psychologists per 10,000 people in the Czech Republic. A Czech family must wait four to six months for a meeting with a child psychologist. The situation in neighbouring countries is better; Slovakia has 16 psychologists per 10,000 population, and Germany 27.

Moreover, such care is often costly since, compared to other European countries, psychotherapy is often not covered by health insurers in the Czech Republic, unlike psychiatric care.

“Psychotherapy is inaccessible to many since Czechs must work for eight and a half hours to earn enough for one hour with a psychologist,” said the Czechia in Data project in a press release.

According to the survey, 86 percent of Czechs would seek professional help if their child’s mental condition deteriorated considerably. Despite that, only 20 percent agree that psychotropic drugs have a positive influence on tackling these problems, and 52 percent of respondents believe that psychotherapy may help tackle psychological disorders.

Almost two-thirds of people believe in the “therapeutic effect” of contact with friends and staying outdoors. Experts acknowledge that these factors have a positive impact on mental health, but this is rather prevention. “If a problem occurs, these are often insufficient and cannot replace full-fledged treatment,” continues the press release.