Psychiatry in Latvia: A journey through the past three centuries

Elmars Rancans, Elmars Terauds, Maris Taube

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: While there is close contact established between Latvia and the Nordic psychiatric community now, there are many pages of our history we have not had opportunity to share. The aim of this article is to highlight the most important facts of more than 200 years of history of psychiatry in Latvia. Results: The development of the psychiatric services in Latvia started with the building of an asylum-type establishment at the end of the 1700s. To address the increasing needs, psychiatric hospitals of various size and quality were gradually opened all over the country. Psychiatry as a field of science emerged in Latvia after the Declaration of Independence in 1918. Active and progressive development of services and the academic environment took place between the World Wars. During the Soviet regime, psychiatric services were rebuilt within the frameworks and guidelines of the existing system. Following the restoration of Independence in 1991, a number of rapid and positive changes took place. There was a gradual decrease in the number of hospital beds, outpatient services were developed and modern treatment methods were established. Policy documents in the field of mental health were developed and legislation improved. Active collaboration with other, particularly Scandinavian, countries was developed. Academic education continued and specialist training was provided following European standards. The role of the psychiatric professional organization was strengthened. Conclusions: Many positive changes in the mental healthcare in Latvia have taken place, but there are still some aspects to be addressed. The strengthening of our regional collaboration could be crucial for our future development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-432
Number of pages5
JournalNordic Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • History
  • Latvia
  • Psychiatry

Field of Science*

  • 3.2 Clinical medicine
  • 3.3 Health sciences

Publication Type*

  • 1.1. Scientific article indexed in Web of Science and/or Scopus database


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