On the 8th April, a panel of experts from the Italian city of Trieste are visiting York St John University. The visit is to discuss how York Mental Health Partnership can improve their services across the city.
The Trieste Model
In Trieste, the approach to mental health has been very different for a long time. In the early 1970’s, they closed all their mental hospitals. Instead, they opened a series of local community-based clinics that can provide a range of services. This can be either on-site, at communal apartments or at patient’s homes. The main difference is that the focus is on the patients personal needs and wants. This includes their right to full citizenship and to feel integrated into the local community, rather than segregated. York has a similar system, where the value of the community is heavily relied upon.
A Picture of Mental Health
One of the biggest challenges that the Mental Health Services face is with is the attitude it receives. It is not always seen as important when compared to physical ailments where the pain or damage can be a lot more visible. Another big problem with mental health is the recurrent nature of the illness. Once a patient has been ‘cured’ they are often removed too far from adequate support networks which can lead to relapse.
However Dr Roberto Mezzina, director of the Department of Mental Health in Trieste, said:
“Our earlier discussions have already shown a great level of awareness of the way we can work to improving the quality of care and, moreover, of a deeper civil conscience and culture of non-discrimination and respect in the field of mental health. This collaboration seems to be a good means to achieve that: exchanging York’s great expertise in community mental health and our long standing, ongoing reform momentum.”
This shows that York’s history and experience with community-based treatment has had a knock-on effect. Now, the older paradigms have given way to an acceptance and a more open approach when looking for effective solutions. Tim Madgwick (chair of the York Mental Health Partnership) stated that they will be signing a learning agreement. This will start looking at long-term solutions to make healthcare more personal and accessible for all patients.