According to the World Health Organisation one out of four people in the whole world experience some kind of mental disorder at some stage of their lives. The Czech Association for Mental Health wants to wake Czechs up to this fact and promote the integration of the mentally ill into the society. The association is starting a month-long project which includes concerts, theatre performances, films and exhibitions - all dedicated to the topic of mental illnesses. Although this subject is serious, the organisers want everybody to have fun in April. Pavla Horakova spoke to one of them - doctor Martin Jarolimek from the Czech Association for Mental Health.
This project is called "Mesic blaznu" or "April - the Month of Fools". What is it about?
"April - the Month of Madness" is a campaign for mentally ill people, mainly schizophrenics. We would like to introduce these patients to the public and we would like to show them that these people are not dangerous as you can see in movies. That's not true, our patients are very peaceful and they can have a lot of very high personal qualities. We would also like to show that everybody, I think, has some potential to be ill. So this is what we would like to do."
What does the project consist of?
"There are films and exhibitions. We are also organising a discussion at the Health Ministry. It will probably be the first occasion for the patients and for their relatives to meet some representatives from health insurance companies, the Psychiatric Association and the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Social Affairs and to tell them what their needs are. The Month of Madness will start in a church with a special mass and at the end of the month, there will be a big celebration of witches."
And why have you chosen April?
"Because in my opinion, April is a typical crazy month, because the weather changes so much and everything around us is changing. I know that in our Celtic history, April was called the 'Crazy Month'."
Mental illnesses were one of the things the communist regime kept quiet about. I suppose many things have changed since then...
"Many things have and many have not. For example, the communists believed that if they changed the social system, mental illnesses would disappear from the community. This stupid idea caused that a lot of mentally ill people were hospitalised for a long time in big mental hospitals because our society did not want to see them in the streets."
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Study: Demand for new flats in Prague set to keep outstripping supply
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
1945-1948: From liberation to Stalinism
‘The fat lady sings’: Prague’s State Opera marks restoration to former glory with gala concert