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Int J Soc Psychiatry. 1992 Spring;38(1):68-73.

Networking consumers' participation in a community mental health service: mutual support groups, 'citizenship' and coping strategies.

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  • 1Servizi di Salute Mentale di Trieste, Italia.


Consumers' and family members' involvement was indispensable to create social support networks promoted by the comprehensive mental health services resulting from the closure and subsequent complete reconversion of the mental hospital in Trieste. Despite long term consumers' disabilities and the families' heavy burden the individuals' positive skills and resources can be, and indeed are, 'valorized'. Mutual help groups, social clubs and solidarity initiatives in the community were the outcome of the individual consumer's active daily involvement in the service therapeutic programmes and of stimulation of social and communication skills. The service considers these forms of supported self-organisation of consumers and family members as new instruments for further deinstitutionalisation and demedicalisation of therapeutic and rehabilitative practices, for the overcoming of social isolation and learning of coping strategies from the mutual experience.

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