Leros: where mental health care and beekeeping meet

In the southern Aegean lies the Greek island and municipality of Leros.

Surrounded by the crystal clear waters, there is a small group of workers on a hill in Leros wearing protective gear and smoking beehives.

They are not ordinary beekeepers, indeed, some of them are patients of the psychiatric hospital of Leros who participate in a 20-year project combining therapy and professional development.

All this takes place in the ‘Caserma Estate’ which houses the social cooperative which is the first of its kind in Greece.

According to project manager and occupational therapist, Andreas Georgiou, the cooperative “aims at the social and professional integration of people with psychosocial problems”.

“Through the program, they gain respect and self-esteem,” he added.

Patients care for the bees and grow their high-quality food – lavender, oregano and other aromatic herbs.

“It’s bee heaven,” Georgiou said.

Patients also package and label honey and dry herbs in rooms inside the psychiatric hospital which is then sold in various locations around the island.

For Artemis, a patient in his 60s, he says “I love what I’m doing here, it’s such a relief for the soul.”

The former director of Leros Psychiatric Hospital, Giannis Loukas said: “The therapeutic gain for patients is immense”, adding that patients “can also enjoy the rights of employees instead of moonlighting, as has long been the case in Leros and elsewhere”. in Greece”.

SOURCE: Euronews