Italy

Rome

PARTNER

Fondazione di Liegro

Volunteers and family network for mental health

2014 - 2017

Italy closed down its mental asylums in 1978 and since then, the lack and complexity of alternative solutions for the families of mentally ill patients has posed significant problems for caretakers and their own mental wellbeing.

In an effort to raise awareness about mental health and create a proper community or network for these patients, activities are also geared towards family members and towards the volunteers who act as a bridge to local health structures.

Patients take part in art therapy workshops. Art therapy enhances individual autonomy and helps each patient rediscover his or her skills and potential, eventually easing their reintegration into society.

Self-help groups, a key component of this project, allow families to dispel loneliness and reduce stigma by sharing their experiences with others facing similar difficulties. Family members and volunteers interested in mental health are also encouraged to take part in a one-year course that raises their awareness and teaches them how to face the difficulties linked to their caregiver’s role.

Volunteers who have finished the training course are then able to lead the art therapy workshops. They may also work in local mental health services to help rehabilitate patients or on telephone support lines that provide guidance and orientation in mental health.

Because adolescence is a particularly sensitive time and is often the point at which mental health issues arise, peer education sessions in schools are essential. These help young people understand the various issues surrounding mental health and provide information on the kinds of support available for different mental illnesses.

Part of the project involves conducting research on the quality of mental health services in the Rome Metropolitan Area. This research will help inform interventions in the social and health sectors. A seminar on recovery is planned and will focus on the effectiveness and limits of a biomedical approach to mental health. It will also highlight the importance of personal, socio-economic and environmental factors in promoting the quality of life of people with mental illnesses and their families.

Project Highlights

Activities

theater

music

photography

cooking

sailing

Beneficiaries

300

people participating to the mental health annual training course

62

volunteers involved in all activities

32

family members involved in self-help groups

44

patients attending art-therapy workshops

4/5 local health authorities

collaborating in the project