Friends and Family of the Mentally Disabled, a subgroup of the grass roots organization Mental Care, was founded on Saturday.
According to the founders there are over 100 mentally disabled people homeless in Iceland – double what the official figures portray, reports Visir.
Erna Indridadóttir, a founder of the Friends and Family Association says it is crucial to solve the housing problem of the mentally disabled. She said that there are a large number of mentally disabled people seeking shelters in homes of family members who are unable to take care of them. “We know of examples of people over 80 years old that need to take care of their 50 year old children who are sick,” said Erna.
According to Erna the main goal of association is to ensure that the mentally ill enjoy the same rights and receive the same respect as other in society.
The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, reports that a great number of people attended the meeting. The importance of helping the mentally ill find employment; and the necessity of giving those who are able the chance to live outside of institutions; were topics discussed at the meeting. According to RÚV many shed tears while sharing their stories and the need for help and solidarity was evident. One guest said that nothing could replace the family as a source of support for the mentally disabled but the family also needed support.
Árni Magnússon, minister of social affairs was a guest speaker and spoke of the governments’ decision to spend ISK 1.5 billion for housing and rehabilitation centers for the mentally disabled in the next five years.
Svanur Kristjánsson, a professor at the University of Iceland chaired the meeting. He said that conditions for the mentally ill were horrendous.