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Italian psychiatric reform 20 plus years after.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Public Health, University of Verona, Italy.



To describe the current situation of mental health care in Italy and implementation of mental health reform legislation.


The current mental health care system and studies of the implementation of psychiatric reform are described.


The 1978 reform law inaugurated fundamental changes in the care system (prohibiting admissions to state mental hospitals, stipulating community-based services, allowing hospitalization only in small general-hospital units). Uneven reform implementation was reported initially. However, in 1984 in- and out-patient services in the community were available to >80% of the population. There is a comprehensive network of in- and out-patient, residential and semi-residential facilities. Recently, services have been jeopardized by the managed-care revolution, and non-profit organizations supplement the public system (especially residential care, employment and self/mutual help).


Implementation of the psychiatric reform law has been accomplished, and the year 1998 marked the very end of the state mental hospital system in Italy.

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