The Croatian Government adopted the Strategic Framework for Mental Health until 2030. The document recognizes mental health as a public health priority and stresses the need to undertake comprehensive and specific measures of health promotion, prevention and protection of mental health and treatment of mental disorders. It describes an increased prevalence of mental disorders and highlights factors that contribute to the burden of poor mental health in Croatia, such as the war in the 1990s, post-communist transition, social insecurity, population ageing, the COVID-19 pandemic and recent earthquakes.

The purpose of the Strategic Framework is to define, in line with other strategic documents, the long-term goals for the improvement of mental health protection in order to decrease the occurrence of mental health disorders and related disability and to increase the accessibility of mental health services. Main areas for developing quality mental health care include raising awareness about mental health problems, timely detection and diagnosis and appropriate treatment and rehabilitation.

The need for a new strategic approach to mental health care is also fueled by several big challenges to the mental health of the population in the modern world, such as demographic changes, especially in terms of an increased representation of the elderly population. With the ageing population, the need for health care is likely to increase with a simultaneous decrease in the number of people able to work. Psychosocial stress is one of the important risk factors for its occurrence and contributes to the increase in mental health disorders. There is therefore a strong need to plan specific interventions to reduce negative stress on health.

Untreated mental health problems account for 13% of the total global burden of disease. It is projected that by 2030, mental health problems (particularly depression) will be the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally.1 In 2015, the economic burden caused by mental health disorders amounted to 2.2 to 4.4% of GDP in member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The burden of mental diseases on caregivers, families and the whole society greatly exceeds the economic challenges.

Part of quality care results in the complete recovery of people with mental disorders and their inclusion in the community through active participation in the therapeutic process. Improvement and mental health protection are essential for the entire social community due to quality improvements in citizens’ health, which contribute to personal satisfaction, social inclusion and productivity in the whole community. This reduces the need for health care and encourages economic and social development.

1.WHO. (2011). Global burden of mental disorders and the need for a comprehensive, coordinated response from health and social sectors at the country level: Report by the Secretariat. Retrieved from [Accessed 31/07/2023].