The international meeting "Trieste 2010: What is 'mental health'?" (February 2010) was attended by over 1500 people from around the world and ended with the proposal to establish a Permanent Conference, under the auspices of the World Health Organization.
A group of promoters has therefore created an NGO association called "Permanent Conference for Mental Health Worldwide", dedicated to Franco Basaglia. Promoters include: managers and directors of international organizations; directors or former directors of mental health services; academics; some of Franco Basaglia's closest collaborators, together with many of those who provided cultural and political support to the transformation processes in Italy, which led to the approval of Law 180 and the shutting down of psychiatric hospitals.
Through the International Committee, the Conference’s goal is to involve actors and experiences in various countries of the world and represent their specific realities.
What is the Conference?
The Conference is:
1. an agency that provides advice and technical assistance to institutional entities involved in positive initiatives in the field of mental health. Its functions include:
• initiating new advanced training courses for professionals involved in mental health policies;
• creating specialized teams to assist in transformation projects or service development;
• promoting exchanges aimed at increasing the visibility of experiences based on best practices.
2. A laboratory for developing a critic reflection on issues related to mental health, inclusion/exclusion, socio-health integration and sustainable human development through:
• establishing an archive of basic texts;
• publishing educational and informational texts;
• promoting a permanent debate in order to oppose reductionist ideologies.
3. A global observatory. Among the Conference’s aims is the mapping of policies and practices for the protection of mental health in different countries.
The Conference: Why?
Between the extremes of abandonment and the continued existence of asylums in most of the world, psychiatry has fragmented into a marked heterogeneity of theoretical and practical approaches. These approaches offer pre-formatted solutions, whose pretensions of scientific legitimacy leave aside any serious public debate on the existing problems.
In psychiatry, and in healthcare and welfare systems generally, the effectiveness of interventions disregards the ability to respond to the needs of those for whom those interventions were provided.
In a global context in which social inequality is on the increase and a general sense of uncertainty prevails, the mentally ill continue to be one of the most persecuted minorities in modern times.
Over the last few decades, while radical changes have taken place in the psychiatric institutions of various countries around the world, in many other countries there has been no change or it has taken place in a manner which is unacceptable.
Positive experiences have been supported by movements, intellectuals, professionals, elected officials and administrators who have committed themselves to creating a culture that is critical of the current nature of institutions and political and healthcare policies, and which defends the rights of the most vulnerable social groups while opposing forms of knowledge that underpin institutions based on exclusion.
This broad movement has been influenced by a general demand for more freedom and the tangible acquisition and exercise of rights, and has influenced this demand in turn. Networks, relationships and knowledge have been created and exchanged among groups and experiences that can and should be more highly valued and recognised.
In the present crisis, reinforcing these ties appears as essential in order to extend and generalise the positive results achieved in various countries or specific areas.
Hence, the pressing need for the following actions:
• a renewed critical focus on intervention systems;
• the creation of public forums for the redefinition of the issues ‘on the table’;
• the activation of appropriate services;
• strong international links and exchanges, in keeping with a global society.
• The Permanent Conference intends to create a stable international network for the development of the rights of vulnerable groups and for the promotion of practices and policies that support them. We want to establish a Conference that brings together a greater plurality of voices, thoughts and exchanges among different professionals, social actors and experiences.
• A Conference which supports social entrepreneurship, the resources of which should be dedicated to the promotion of the social and personal autonomy of individuals and groups at risk of exclusion, by stressing innovative methods, participation levels, professional alliances, ethics and productivity.
• A Conference capable of carrying out credible research and disseminating knowledge about advanced realities. A Conference which can also exert a real influence on policy makers for the development of social policies aimed at emancipation, at the taking care of problems, at real inclusion, at the diffusion of rights as the cornerstone for any project of health and welfare in the field of mental health.
• And finally, a Conference which will develop initiatives aimed at criticising failures or regressions of specific services in different regions, while supporting local authorities, national ministries and international bodies deputed to the protection of mental health and social inclusion in implementing programs that meet the real needs of their populations.
How to collaborate with the conference
Adhering to the MEMORANDUM of AGREEMENT is the basis for any future cooperation with the Permanent Conference.
With the Memorandum, the parties agree that:
1. Universal access to healthcare services is a fundamental goal for a democratic society which respects the rights of any individual.
2. Special attention must be given to guaranteeing this access for the most vulnerable groups.
3. A plan of coordinated actions aimed at supporting the interventions in favour of mental health and creating emancipatory services accessible to vulnerable groups is a necessary tool for promoting inclusion and reinforcing social cohesion.
4. Services must respond to the real needs of the persons they are conceived for. Highly centralised institutions (where they exist) must therefore be replaced by an integrated network of community services. The full respect of the assisted person’s individuality must be at the heart of the entire process.
5. In the area of mental health, a similar transformation must be accompanied by the replacement of neuro-psychiatric services based on a biological or hospital-based approach with a network of community services that support the users in all phases of their complete social reintegration process. More specifically, this process should include the following actions:
• the deconstruction of total institutions, through the abandonment of internment/segregation practices, the condemnation of any form of institutional violence and the elimination of the stigma attached to mental illness;
• the creation of a network of decentralised community services, equipped to assist the person with a mental disorder in all phases of the process. Care/assistance should be delivered at home or in 7/24 services which can respond to all the user’s primary needs. Such services should always aim at promoting the dignity and individuality of the user and their relations with the community in which they live;
• the implementation of real, concrete solutions for social inclusion and reintegration. Particular attention should be given to the social/ material support of persons involved in the care process. In addition to healthcare interventions, the Services should also provide economic support, and housing and occupational assistance if necessary.
6. Other indispensable elements for any healthcare policy include operator training, correctly informing and seeking the active participation of family members and raising public awareness on stigma (especially in schools and among young people). Persons in care should be encouraged to participate directly in order to give value to their own experience, control the quality of care and become an active participant in their own care process.
7. The discussion and exchange of good practices (also in international cooperation) is an important added value for achieving the goals set forth and agreed to in the present memorandum, and will therefore be encouraged constantly and concretely.
8. ……………. (Name and description of the institution/association that wishes to collaborate with the Conference, and what it hopes to gain from such collaboration).
9. The Permanent Conference for Mental Health Worldwide Ngo, in terms of its statutory aims and the composition of its social base, has a high degree of technical/scientific competence. It is also associated with an international network of best-practices which guarantee the quality of technical assistance and support in the medium and long term.
3. ………………………………………………………………………………………………… and the Permanent Conference agree to draw up jointly (a) a detailed plan of action regarding the above mentioned points, within one month of the signing of the present memorandum; (b) an executive agreement (or similar document, depending on the partner’s legal-bureaucratic requirements) for implementing the joint plan of action, will be drawn up subsequently. The executive agreement (or similar) will specify the tasks, responsibilities and financial contributions of the parties involved.
Professional profiles of Basaglia Conference Directory members
Giovanna Del Giudice
President of Basaglia Conference. Psychiatrist, she began her career with Franco Basaglia in the Trieste Psychiatric Hospital, in December 1971. In 1980 she was appointed head psychiatrist and director of a Mental Health Centre in Trieste. Appointed Director of the Mental Health Department of Caserta in 2002, in 2006 she became the new Director of the Cagliari Sociomedical District and for the next three years also served as the representative for Sardinia in the State-Regional Commission for Mental Health. She has been national spokesperson of the Mental Health Forum since 2003. She has published numerous articles, participated in many international conferences and has also taught at the Universities of Trieste and Cagliari.
Psychiatrist, he collaborated with Franco Basaglia and David Cooper in the anti-institutional movement. Has taught “Development and International Cooperation” in many Italian universities. Since 2004, has been Executive Representative of the Inter-Agency Scientific Committee for Human Development Cooperation and coordinates the “Human Development, Health and Equal Opportunities” division of the General Administration for Development Cooperation in the Italian Foreign Ministry. He has served as Director of Italian Cooperation in the joint Italy/UN Human Development Programs for Africa, the Mediterranean, Latin America and Eastern Europe and was WHO advisor for emergency aid, European Commission advisor for the fight against poverty and European Parliament advisor for prevention and interventions in areas of armed conflict. Within the framework of UN Programmes, he was involved in the start up of the decentralized cooperation of Italian local institutions in many countries, including : Albania, Angola, Bosnia Herzegovina, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Libya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Serbia, South Africa and Tunisia.
Active since 1978 in the area of social cooperation, he is currently Chairman of the Consortium o Social Cooperatives "Gesco", member of the "Foundation for the South" Technical Committee and, since 2001, Director of the Social Cooperation Promotion Agency. He has worked especially in the areas of foster children , occupation re-entry for persons with substance abuse problems, social inclusion and the fight against marginalization. He was Vice-President of the Social Cooperatives League (2007-2010), member of the Board of Directors of “Banca Etica”, President of the “Cooperatives and Mutual Aid Societies Regional League” in Campania (2003-2007) and President of the Institute of Research and Training for Social Economy (1996-1999). Since 2006 he has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Political Science Faculty, Salerno University.
Ota Carla De Leonardis
Professor, she teaches “Sociology of cultural processes” at Bicocca Milan University, is a member of the Teaching Board of the European Doctorate in Urban Studies and coordinator of the Research Lab “Sui generis. Public Action Sociology” (Bicocca Milan University). She has taught at the universities of Salerno (History of Sociology), Siena (Sociology), Naples (Sociology) and Milan (Family Sociology and Organization Sociology), and was Director of the Masters Programme in Local Development and Social Quality, Bicocca Milan University. She was visiting professor at the University of Buenos Aires (2002) and at the Ecole de Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (2005). In 2007-08, she was a Grand Jury member of the “Insitut Universitaire de France”. She has participated in national and international research programmes with the CNR, the Italy-Argentina Technical Cooperation, Bettelle Foundation, Rockfeller Foundation and Formez.
Psychiatrist, from 1971-79 he worked with Franco Basaglia in Trieste. Since 1995 he has been Director of the Trieste Mental Health Department. Author of three popular books: “Non ho l’arma che uccide il leone” (I don’t have the weapon that kills the lion), “Il folle gesto” (“The Mad Act”) and “Fuori come va?” (“How’s it going outside?”), he also teaches in the Faculty of Psychology, Trieste University and was director of the Trieste WHO Collaborating Centre. He has participated in conferences and seminars in many countries, including Japan, Australia, Great Britain, United States, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands. He has directed various national research projects on services organization, promoted by the Italian Health Ministry.
Sociologist and psychologist, she is active in research and training activities. She has served as advisor on social and health policies, both in Italy and Latin America, with a special focus on the legal framework, services organization and professional cultures. She teaches at Bicocca Milan University, and is a member of the scientific board of the sociology lab “Sui Generis”. She has coordinated or collaborated with many international cooperation programmes in Argentina.
Psychiatrist, after earning his degree from Bari University he began working in Trieste with Franco Basaglia. Vice-Director of the Trieste Mental Health Department since 1995, he is director of a Mental Health Centre. Co-founder of the International Mental Health Collaboration Network, he currently coordinates/directs the Trieste WHO Collaborating Centre. His special areas of interest are recovery, social inclusion, services organization and user involvement. Author of more than 150 publications in both Italy and abroad, he has participated in conferences and seminars in Great Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Ireland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Serbia, Greece, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka.
Psychiatrist, he began his career at the University Psychiatric Clinic in Parma and the forensic hospital at Castiglione delle Stiviere, before working with Franco Basaglia, first in Parma and then in Trieste. He was Director of the Trieste Mental Health Services form 1980-95. WHO advisor in Brazil, Argentina and the Dominican Republic, he directed various cooperation projects in Cuba, Greece, Slovenia and Argentina. He directed the European intervention in the Leros Hospital, Greece, and was Managing Director of the Trieste Healthcare Services Agency from 1998-2001 and again from 2004-10. In 2001-03, he was Managing Director of the Caserta Healthcare Services Agency and chaired the Campania Regional Board for Mental Health. He is the author of numerous publications, a selection of which appeared in the volume “Per la normalità” (“For normality”).
Psychiatrist, researcher and public health expert, he worked in the Trieste mental health services with Franco Basaglia and Franco Rotelli. He taught Epidemiology and Mental Health at Rio de Janiero University, and from 1986-96 was advisor to the Pan-American Health Organization in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, Brazil, Peru and Chile. In 1996 he was appointed Director of the WHO Special Program for Vulnerable Populations ‘Nations for Mental Health’. Since 1999 he has directed the WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. He is professor of Social Psychiatry at Geneva University and co-director of the Lisbon University master programme in Community Mental Health. He is honorary member of the Royal College of Psychiatry and was conferred degrees honoris causa from both Birmingham and Lisbon University.
Trained in Franco Basaglia’s équipe, while working in other countries she has always maintained a close contact with Trieste and the staff of Franco Rotelli, with whom she collaborated in a number of experimental projects. At the request of the French Social Affairs Ministry she established the Community Centre for Adolescent Emergency Reception in the Paris banlieus, which became a model for working with minors in situations of social distress that was alternative to juvenile institutions. She collaborated in EU projects for the reform of the psychiatric hospitals of Athens and Leros (Greece) and has served as advisor in many UN international cooperation programmes, in particular those involved in psychiatric reform in Albania. She founded the International Network of Practices for the Fight Against Social Exclusion, www.exclusion.net and was project coordinator for the WHO-Mediterranean Centre for Vulnerability Reduction. Currently, she is Director of the Trieste Healthcare Services Agency Office for Innovation and National and International Projects.
A recognised figure nationally in the area of family associations, she has been active for many years in the battle for patients’ rights and the implementation and promotion of Law 180 and psychiatric reform in Italy.
The network is under construction
For information for joining the Conference: firstname.lastname@example.org