CHILDREN'S RIGHTS: MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS OF CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE IN ALBANIA
“…Mental health is an important part of the child’s overall health. In fact, it has a considerable effect on physical health, and in the children’s ability to succeed in school, at work, and in society …”
The protection of human rights, especially children's rights in every field of life: economic, social, cultural life, wellbeing, and mental health, is the most crucial issue for the whole society, especially for the National Human Rights Institutions.
Before the ‘90s legislation in Albania, mental health support and expertise were offered through centralized services with a biological orientation focused on symptoms. The most vulnerable group were children because of their age. In fulfilling the respect of human rights in general and persons with disabilities, as well as many marginalized groups, for the first time, after regime change, Law no.8092, date 1.3.1996, "On mental health," brought to some extent some changes. Nonetheless, It was the first law not providing much for protecting minors and adolescents with mental health problems from possible abuse and concerning the mental health spectrum disorders for this category.
In 2003 the mental health reform in Albania was drafted according to the Political Document for Mental Health, which provided the principles and objectives expected to be achieved, through the development of services, both at central and local levels, and was followed by the Action Plan 2005-2010. The Action Plan foresaw short-term and medium-term activities based on necessities under all international documents ratified by our country, including the Convention of Children's Rights (CRC). This mental health reform is combined with other reforms undertaken in Albania, following the integration process. All these reforms enabled the complete improvement of the legal framework compliant with respect for human rights and marginalized groups.
This paper analyzes the legal framework and all the strategic documents in the mental health field toward improvements regarding Children's Rights, especially their right to live without social exclusion, poverty, discrimination, and violence.
The data collected to generate issues and findings are sourced from personal experiences during fieldwork inspections. - carried both in central and local level in the state institutions such as The National Center for Child Upbringing, Development and Rehabilitation in Tirana Municipality and National Center for children’s growth, development and rehabilitation and the Community Mental Health Center, located in Elbasan Municipality.
 This paper is a small summary of job monitoring and overseeing of the authorities as part of the integral protection system for Children's Rights in Albania as a Former Commissioner for the Protection and Promotion of Children's Rights in the People's Advocate Institution in Albania (personal experience)