The Protector of Citizens pays particular attention to the protection of rights of persons with intellectual and mental disabilities, a vulnerable and highly stigmatized and marginalized social group. The process of deinstitutionalization is still in its infancy, and placement in institutions remains the dominant form of protection for people with mental disorders, said Zoran Pasalic, the Protector of Citizens, on the occasion of International Mental Health Day. Therefore, it is necessary to adopt a strategy for the inclusion of people with mental disabilities in the community, and to develop life support services and networks of services for the protection of mental health in the local community.

In order to prevent any form of abuse, to improve conditions of stay in psychiatric institutions and to manage the treatment of persons with mental disabilities in accordance with the applicable regulations and standards, the Protector of Citizens, in performing the activities of the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), visited all psychiatry departments at the (four) clinical centers (Kragujevac, Belgrade, Nis, Novi Sad) in 2019, as well as the Center for Mental Health in Nis. A study visit to the Department of Psychiatry of the General Hospital in Sabac was also carried out.

The Protector of Citizens points to the importance of respecting the rights of persons with mental disabilities, without prejudice, participation of patients in preparation of individual treatment plans and the informed consent to a medical measure, as well as to the freedom to make a decision regarding their own life and health, except when that directly threatens the lives and health of others.

The Protector of Citizens particularly emphasizes the need to establish appropriate health care institutions for developmental psychiatry (or developmental neurology and psychiatry), since the psychiatric care of children and minors/adolescents, in small spaces, as is the case in the inpatient pediatric wards of the Clinic for Psychiatry of the Clinical Center of Vojvodina and the Center for mental health in Nis, significantly complicates the work of employees and the adjustment of psychosocial activities to the needs and capabilities of each patient.

Lack of resources to improve the material conditions of patient accommodation and the development of psychosocial rehabilitation programs for all patients, as well as insufficient number of employees, of different profiles, are the main problems faced by employees in the institutions visited.