Отклонения, лирически и прозаически
Expanding Sofia Needs a Shrink

October 2007

According to the National Statistical Institute, the population of the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, was 1,270,010 people on 31 December 2006, but allegedly tops 1.7 M including commuters and unregistered citizens. Undoubtedly a larger number now, due to the constant migration from towns and villages, Sofia is so far fulfilling the first part of its motto, “Grows but doesn’t age”. Perhaps a bit slower on the aging trend of the whole population of Bulgaria, common to all European nations, Sofia is, however, becoming senile in its own way.

According to another research by the NSI, 25 percent of the population of Sofia is suffering from some sort of a psychic disease that leads to either a temporal or a permanent loss of working efficiency. More than 6,000 Sofians have been diagnosed with schizophrenia and another 25,000 suffer from some kind of mental underdevelopment. The research also states that 5% of Sofians aged 65 or more have Alzheimer’s disease, while every 64 out of 100,000 people have attempted to commit suicide. This is the only aspect in which Sofia lags behind another city - the town of Shumen comes first with 81 per 100,000 suicide attempts.

The municipal strategy for psychic health launched recently envisages the establishment of centres for crisis intervention for the mentally ill, as well as the creation of an Executive Council at the Capital municipality that should work on issues of psychic health. The strategy emphasizes that the five most spread causes of the loss of working efficiency are depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and alcohol addiction. The activities to be undertaken under the psychic health strategy include “promotion and prevention of psychic health, continuous care for the needs of the ill, respect of their human rights and protection from discrimination, rehabilitation, professional pre-qualification of individuals suffering from severe mental problems, and defying social stereotypes.

In the past decade, Sofia has seen huge interest from residents of other parts of Bulgaria who come to the capital seeking better paid employment or growth opportunities.

(see page 10 for a song dedicated to Sofia).