Interview with Florian Koleci

foto_koleciPsychiatrist Dr. Florian Koleci (40) works at Estuar, the first organization in Romania to open a day centre for psychiatric patients, now sixteen years ago.

The initiative came from a group of psychiatrists from Bukarest, with support from a Scottish foundation. Four years later, in 1997, Estuar started a project for sheltered living in Bukarest. Gradually this project has expanded to four centres, in Bukarest, Cluj, and Constanza. Patients live with three or four persons in an apartment, with assistance from an Estuar team. These teams include psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and legal advisers. The social workers have frequent contacts with the clients and act as intermediaries between them and the other members of the team. The organization is financed by the Scottish foundation and some other foreign charities.

‘Our relations with the local authorities are good and the Ministries of Labour and Social Security recognize our services as professional’, says Koleci. Estuars working method is allowed by the (year?) law, but financial support by the Romanian authorities has not been granted so far.

‘Estuar does not aim to lead day care centres and sheltered living projects all over the country’ says Koleci. ‘We offer the working model. Not all psychiatrists are open to innovation, but we organize meetings in our social centres where they can see how we work and ask questions about the method.

We have very good relations with the media. Almost every day, even several times a day, we have a spot on a popular TV station, Realitata. The spot lasts half a minute and shows a few people who, after being asked “How many friends you have?” are surrounded by a large circle of people. Then the voice asks: “How many friends do you have with mental problems?” Subsequently the image fades and in its place we show the Estuar web address, underlining that we help to help those friends. We receive e-mails every day, many of them in reaction to these TV spots. We answer all kinds of questions about mental problems and how to find help for them.’

Estuar strives in various ways to supply good information about mental illness. ‘We offer training courses to journalists and we have issued a guidebook with explanations of all psychiatric disturbances, with lots of examples. Also we check messages about suicide. If a newspaper or TV station mentions in which way a person has ended his life, we phone the editor concerned and explain that it is dangerous to describe this, since it can inspire people who are prone to commit suicide to use the same method.’

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