How to get psychological support in Croatia

two people watching sunset
Talking with a person of trust is always beneficial

PUBLISHED: 8.4.2024.

Life can sometimes be demanding, and stress can be a huge burden. If you find it quite challenging to process emotions, it is good to get professional help. Mental health is just as important as physical health.

Feelings like fear, anxiety, and depression occur often, but we don’t have to deal with them alone. Asking for help and accepting it from others is beneficial and sometimes crucial, so let’s find out how to get psychological support in Croatia.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

Where to get psychological help in Croatia

Attitudes toward seeking professional psychological help in Croatia have changed a lot over time. It used to be taboo, but nowadays, many people are open to seeking and receiving psychological help, and the stigma around it has been lifted.

You can get psychological help in Croatia from a psychiatrist and a psychologist. It is important to understand the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist and to know who can help you with what exactly.

  • Psihijatar (psychiatrist) is a medical doctor who specializes in psychiatry (mental illness) and can prescribe medication.
  • Psiholog (psychologist) is an expert who specializes in psychology (psyche and character of people), is not a physician, and is not permitted to write prescriptions.

However, both have received training to comprehend how your brain, thoughts, and behavior function. Both can assist you with various forms of psychotherapy and counseling.

Who can get psychological support in Croatia?

There are places where you can seek psychological help even as a foreigner without residence in Croatia or Croatian citizenship. The only problem you might run into as a foreigner is the language barrier. All the resources provided by the state health institutions are in Croatian, and only some private practices offer psychological support in English.

[Read: Biggest Croatian language schools in Croatia]

Public centers like the Hrvatski zavod za javno zdravstveno – HZJZ (Croatian Institute for Public Health) do not require identification or referral, same as emergency phone lines that are offered through the Crveni križ (Red Cross) or Plavi telefon (Blue phone). View the full list of help centers here.

If you are visiting Croatia as a tourist, you can only call the emergency line if you are in immediate danger. However, you can use the free resources mentioned above (HZJZ). As a foreigner without Croatian health insurance or residence, you can also schedule appointments with any private practice.

Everyone with a temporary or permanent residence in Croatia also has mandatory obvezno health insurance, and they can seek counseling in health centers or hospitals. Learn how third-country citizens can apply for obvezno here and EU citizens here. If you want to apply for Croatian citizenship, view this guide.

[Read: Available visas and residence permits for Croatia]

Psychological help for minors in Croatia

As a parent, you can help your child by taking them to a pedijatar (pediatrician), or a obiteljski liječnik (family doctor), who can recommend adequate help. However, if you are a minor and you need psychological help, there are a couple of places where you can go to.

Every Croatian school has a školski psiholog (school psychologist), and this is usually the child’s first experience with psychology. They have an open-door policy and children can talk about anything they want.

In addition to school psychologists, there are also phone numbers minors can call if they need psychological help. View their list here.

Psychologists in health centers would probably ask children for their parent’s approval, or they would like to inform the parent. However, this depends from case to case.

Note: Officially, children in Croatia should visit doctors with their parents until they are 18. However, it is common practice for children to visit doctors on their own since elementary school. Doctors are usually okay with this unless they need parents’ approval for certain procedures or examinations. This is why a doctor might inform a parent or even a social service if a child asks for psychological help on their own.

How to get psychological help covered by health insurance in Croatia

In Croatia, if you have mandatory health insurance and a chosen family doctor, you can ask for a referral to a specialist who can provide you with psychological help. They will refer you to a specialist in dom zdravlja (health center) or bolnica (hospital), depending on your needs. If a specialist provides you with a prescribed medication, your family doctor can renew your prescription until you re-visit the specialist or feel better.

View our public health guides:

In most health centers throughout Croatia, psychologists work within the Služba za psihijatriju i neurologiju (Department of Psychiatry and Neurology). Each team in this department has a specialist psychiatrist, a nurse, and a psychologist.

Psychologists perform psychological treatment on the instructions of psychiatrists, neurologists, or family medicine doctors and psychological counseling of adults as part of their work.

HZJZ has a special Savjetovalište za promicanje mentalnog zdravlja (Counseling Center for the Promotion of Mental Health), where you can get psychological help for a shorter duration (up to 10 meetings). Some of the services include:

  • Psychoeducation
  • Psychological first aid and initial professional support for mental health
  • Short counseling interventions and psychological counseling
  • Risk assessment and the need for referral to further treatment
  • Information about mental health care services offered in the community

The list of HZJZ’s offices in Croatia is available here.

Note: Counseling centers do not provide psychodiagnostic, psychotherapy, and treatment services or telephone psychological counseling. Users remain anonymous, all services are free, and no referral is required.

How to get help from private psychological practices in Croatia

In Croatia, private psychological practices offer many types of therapies. The most popular ones you will find in your area are:

  • Psihoanaliza (Psychoanalysis)
  • Kognitivno-bihevioralna terapija (Cognitive-behavioral therapy)
  • Terapija prihvaćanjem i posvećenošću (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy)
  • Shema terapija (Schema therapy)
  • Geštalt psihoterapija (Gestalt psychotherapy)

Other types of psychological therapies private practices offer are:

  • Art terapija (Art therapy)
  • Brief terapija (Brief therapy)
  • Gottman metoda partnerske terapije (Gottman method of partner therapy)
  • Grupna analiza (Group analysis)
  • Integrativna dječja i adolescentna psihoterapija (Integrative child and adolescent psychotherapy)
  • Integrativna psihoterapija (Integrative psychotherapy)
  • Kibernetika i sistemska terapija (Cybernetics and systemic therapy)
  • Logoterapija (Logotherapy)
  • Muzikoterapija (Music therapy)
  • Narativna terapija (Narrative therapy)
  • Psihodrama (Psychodrama)
  • Psihoterapija pokretom i plesom (Psychotherapy with movement and dance)
  • Seksualna terapija (Sexual therapy)
  • Teorija izbora (Choice theory)
  • Terapija igrom (Play therapy)
  • Tjelesno orijentirana psihoterapija (Body-oriented psychotherapy)
  • Transakcijska analiza (Transactional analysis)

To find a private practice that serves your needs, visit this link and filter psychologists per city, price range, and type of practice they offer. When you search for a psychologist, you can also set a preferirani jezik (preferred language).

How to get free psychological help in Croatia

In addition to the free psychological help online and free numbers you can call, there are many institutions where you can seek help, whether you are a foreigner or a Croatian resident. These institutions are listed here.

There is an excellent website for free online psychological help, which you can email to get the answer you need. For example, you can ask where to find the right therapist or when to seek psychological help. Send an email via this website and get free help.

Numbers to call if you need immediate psychological help in Croatia

If you are considering suicide, please call Centar za krizna stanja i prevenciju suicida KBC Rebro (Center for Crisis Situations and Suicide Prevention KBC Rebro) at +385 (0)1 237 6470. They are available 24 hours a day over the phone for adults, or you can visit them from 8:00-20:00.

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If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 112.

[Read: Emergency and helpful phone numbers for Croatia]

If you are having a rough time and need to talk to someone, we’ve compiled an extensive list of the resources available to those living in Croatia, along with their contact information below.

Numbers to call if you want to get psychological treatment in Croatia

For those who want to receive psychological treatment or are looking for psychological help of any kind, here are the numbers to call.

1. Andrija Štampar Teaching Institute of Public Health

Address: Mirogojska cesta 11, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)1 383 00 66

Address: Remetinečki gaj 14, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)1 383 00 66

Address: Hirčeva 1, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)1 646 83 40

Address: Ožegovićeva 9, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)1 641 40 30

Website

2. Center for crisis situations and suicide prevention at KBC Rebro

Address: Kišpatićeva 12, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)1 2376 335

Website

3. Croatian Institute for Public Health

Address: Rockefellerova 12, 10 000 Zagreb – view map
Phone: +385 (0)99 527 0126, +385 (0)1 4863 363
Email: savjetovalista@hzjz.hr

Website

4. Croatian Red Cross

Phone: +385 (0)800 1188

Website

5. Hrabri telefon – offers counseling for parents and children

Phone for children: +385 (0)1 116 111
Phone for parents: +385 (0)800 0800
Email: info@hrabritelefon.hr
Live chat: Available on their website

Website

6. Plavi telefon

Phone: +385 (0)1 4833 888

Website

7. TESA Psychology Center

Phone: +385 (0)1 4828 888
Email: psiho.pomoc@tesa.hr

Website

What to do if you feel down?

We all feel down from time to time. There are many causes for the feeling of sadness, anxiety, or depression. Here are some things we can do to help ourselves with feelings of hopelessness, anxiety, or depression:

  • Talk to a person of trust. It can be a family member, a friend, or anyone else with whom you feel safe.
  • Try breathing exercises that help calm down and relieve stress. View some breathing exercises here.
  • Take time to relax regularly. Enjoy your time by doing things you love, such as going for a walk or playing sports.
  • Take care of yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat people you love.
  • Sleep 7 to 8 hours every night, and if it helps, make a sleep schedule to follow.
  • Focus on the present moment and try mindfulness techniques. View some of them here.

Note: This is not a medical advice. Please visit a specialist if you need help.

[Read: Why Croatia is a country of natural wellness and soul food]

View other Croatian healthcare articles

Frequently asked questions

Is there a suicide helpline in Croatia?

Yes, there are a couple of helplines in Croatia, but the immediate help you can get at Centar za krizna stanja i prevenciju suicida KBC Rebro. View all the addresses and numbers you can call on our list available here.

Who to call if you feel suicidal in Croatia?

If you feel suicidal, immediately call Centar za krizna stanja i prevenciju suicida KBC Rebro at +385 (0)1 237 6470. They are available 24 hours a day over the phone. In case of danger, always call 112.

Is psychological help in Croatia free?

Yes, the obvezno health insurance covers the cost of treatment in a hospital or at a health center. There are also many free resources and phone numbers you can call, which you can view here.

Will my travel insurance cover psychological treatment in Croatia?

Depending on your type of insurance, your travel insurance will most likely cover hospitalization. However, travel insurance does not cover psychological help from a therapist. Learn how to get travel insurance here.

How do you know if someone needs psychological help?

When a person in your life has mood swings, changes in personality, or changes in behavior, they might need psychological help. Here are some signs that someone might need psychological support:

  • Changes in personality
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Not able to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Withdrawal from daily activities
  • Withdrawal from people
  • Unusual thinking
  • Excessive anxiety
  • Prolonged sadness, depression, or apathy

If you notice these patterns in someone, you can try to talk to them and offer support. You can also guide them on how to seek psychological help. Be patient and kind, and offer reassurance. In case of an emergency, you can also call for immediate help.


Sources:
Low mood, sadness and depression by NHS
Kontakti u kriznim situacijama by Psiholoskapomoc.hr
Besplatan telefonski broj za sve kojima je potrebna podrška by Hrvatski Crveni Križ
Studentski.hr by Luciana Stilinović

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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