International Mental Health Collaborating Network

Newsletter March 2016

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Dear IMHCN Supporter
Welcome to the third edition of our newsletter. 

In 2014 we relaunched IMHCN as a UK based organisation, while keeping clearly the international basis. Since then we have successfully developed our work with new partners across the world. Our focus over this time has been on promoting the whole person, whole life, whole system approach, working with mental health services and practices, underpinned by recovery values, principles and practices. However, our original purpose of challenging institutionalisation remains the key part of the mission of IMHCN.

To address this we now want to bring together the original founder members of IMHCN: Asturias, Spain; Monaghan, Ireland; Lille, France; Cornwall, UK; Stockholm; Sweden; and Trieste, Italy. We want to work together to identify psychiatric hospitals that have developed community mental health services since 2000. We want to collate this information to produce a good practice guide, which we will share with our membership. Therefore this year, we plan to bring together the original founder members to develop this initiative.

This year we are also prioritising the formation and development of the International Psychiatric Hospital in Transition AllianceIn recognition of the considerable challenges required to improve the quality of life of people living in institutions, in a prospect of finding service alternatives and health and social supports for a full life in the community. The focus will be on on human rights, meeting individual needs, improving choice of treatments and therapies and to protect them from abuse and discrimination. You can read more about the Alliance below.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that IMHCN is now a registered charity under UK law. This means we have been recognised as an organisation that carries out work that is in the public interest and of benefit to people and services. We can now apply for funding to carry out more of our work from a wider range of potential sponsors and grant giving bodies.

You can read more about what we are doing and plan to do in 2016.

With warm regards
Roberto Mezzina (chairman) and  John Jenkins (CEO)



Launch of the International Psychiatric Hospital in Transition Alliance
The IMHCN with partners in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Gambia, Hungary, India, Italy, Malaysia, Palestine,Serbia  and the UK have developed the International Psychiatric Hospital in Transition Alliance, this was founded at the 2015 Franco and Franca Basaglia International School held in Trieste.
In many countries the development of a comprehensive community mental health system to replace the psychiatric hospital has and will be a patchy and slow process. This is due to many factors, economic, political, environmental, social, educational and ideological.However, there are excellent examples around the world of community services and recovery practices that have proved to be more beneficial in meeting the needs of people with mental health issues.There are thousands of people in psychiatric hospitals in low to middle income countries as well as many in richer countries. They need more opportunities to improve their human rights, mental health and well-being whilst they are in these hospitals. The main purpose of this International Alliance is to improve their quality of life, their human rights, to meet their individual needs, to improve their choice of treatments and therapies and to protect them from abuse and discrimination.

This Alliance builds on the declaration made in Trieste in 2011 at the Franco and Franca Basaglia International School "Beyond the Walls" entitled  "The process of phasing out of psychiatric hospitals as places of social exclusion and the shift to community services"
The Declaration proposes the following:
"1. Support and guidance in various countries for deinstitutionalisation and development of integrated/comprehensive Community Mental Health services by:

  • drafting of policies at the local and national level
  • strengthening leadership and management (e.g through the exchange of operators, on-site and off-site training, courses and stages)
  • supporting implementation and development of local services network
  • supporting workforce development (multidisciplinary teams)
  • 2. Collaboration, partnership and networking with some countries/areas which demonstrate the willingness and capacity to deliver community based service development
    3. Diffusion of Whole Systems & Recovery approaches: innovative practices in community Mental Health(e.g. alternatives for acute care; comprehensive Community Mental Health Centres; rehabilitation, recovery & social inclusion services; deinstitutionalisation & whole systems change; early intervention integrated network; social enterprises & Cooperatives technology, operation & policies).

The mission of the Alliance Partners will be to address these challenges by changing the culture in in-patient settings from one of maintenance and no hope to a Whole Person, Whole Life and Recovery Approach.
We will do this by:

  • Identifying and sharing best practice in improving the users experience in hospitals
  • Campaigning for their human rights
  • Identifying and sharing good examples of community developments
  • Examples of Whole Person, Recovery Practice
  • Creating a web page for each Alliance Partner on our website
  • Developing an Alliance newsletter
  • Identifying bad practices
  • Introducing a Learning Set on the process of Deinstitutionalisation
  • Providing training in deinsitutionalisation and community development
  • Offering to Partners a Learning Set on Whole Person, Whole Life-Whole System, Recovery into Practice
  • Acting as advocates for culture change
  • Introducing to Partners new ways of working with users and family members
  • Organising events in Alliance Partners Hospitals and community services

You can read the full  description here  . For more information contact John Jenkins at

International School, Trieste, Italy "A Community without seclusion" 
The International School was held on the 16th to the 18th December 2015 in Trieste. The theme was A community without seclusion - the challenge of the open door, open discourse, open access in mental health care and services through practices of freedom.
The meeting attended by 300 delegates from 34 countries and was aimed at exchanging experiences and practices through a reciprocal learning process among innovators, raising awareness of the emerging needs in the field of community mental health and expanding international networks toward change.
The four day meeting considered the challenge of the open door, open discourse, open access in mental health care and services through practices of freedom.
The event was organised by the Mental Health Department of Trieste in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Mental Health Collaborating Network (IMHCN) and supported and financed by Regione Autonoma Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Provincia e del Comune di Trieste.
Subjects included:
  • The issue of rights and the ethics of care as a key in health-care: can values generate evidence?
  • Open discourse: equal rights, partners and shared practice
  • Exchanging Practices of Freedom and Liberty
  • Co-production, “nothing about me without me”: involving the user in co-production of services
  • Community development and learning sets, changing the thinking, practices and system
  • RECOVERY - the way through the system 
A record of the proceedings and pdf's of over 50 presentations are available here.
Twinning Convention Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust & Lyngby Municipality, Copenhagen
IMHCN members Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, Hertfordshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust  and Lyngby Municipality, Copenhagen have signed a Twinning Agreement following the April Study visit with the aim to bring together people and organisations that are committed to developing good quality community mental health services and practices for people with a mental health issue based on the philosophy principles and values of whole life, recovery and social inclusion and emancipation. With the support of a continuous learning culture and collaboration, individuals and organisations can benefit from each other’s experiences, practices and knowledge.

This Twinning Collaboration Convention is based on the experience from other IMHCN members in developing a Whole Life-Whole System, Recovery into Practice Approach

IMHCN Online Library
The IMHCN library contains a wealth of information that can help us to understand and reflect on what is important in developing and sustaining a Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole Community, Whole System movement.
We want to capture the latest and most relevant knowledge base from around the world and share this with each other.
Therefore the library provides visitors with a valuable resource. This will keep us informed of the best practice and the latest developments in changing the way we think about and act in meeting the needs of people with mental health issues.
The library is is now viewable by all visitors to our site. Go here to visit the library.

New IMHCN FaceBook Discussion Group has over 450 members
We now have a FaceBook discussion and information group. It is open to supporters of the International Mental Health Collaborative Network. Here we will discuss and share information about whole life recovery, deinstitutionalisation and related topics. This is a moderated public group and you are welcome to join. Go here to find out more.

Our work in 2015

Trieste Recovery Learning Community & Recovery House

The first phase of the Trieste Recovery Learning community and Recovery House has now been completed. Over a six month period from May 2015 Paul Baker and Roberta Casadio from IMHCN worked with the Trieste Mental Health Department. Together they developed a whole life recovery focussed project to enable six people and their families to develop their autonomy and recovery pathways. The six people have now graduated from the project and six new people have joined the project and will be working on their recovery journeys until June 2016. See more here
News and Articles from our Members
New Approaches to Mental Health Workshops in Rio, Recife and Brasilia Brazil 2015

IMHCN Associates Jorn Eriksen, Daniela Speh and Paul Baker undertook a successful workshop tour of Brazil taking in Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Brasilia from the 23rd September to 5th October 2015. You can see the report and photographs here. We will be returning to Brazil in 2016.
"Service User, Family Member and professional “Trialogue”
The final Action Learning Set of the Project titled "Recovery within community – Supporting recovery of persons with mental disorders and their full inclusion in the community" was held in Belgrade, Serbia in 2015.  This was a collaboration between The International Aid Network (IAN) and The International Mental Health Collaborating Network.
What’s Been Happening In New Zealand?
Rob Warriner, IMHCN Member and Chief Executive of the WALSH Trust, New Zealand provides an update of developments in his country.

2016 has begun in New Zealand with both concern and optimism. Concern arising out of a increasingly shared acceptance that the status quo is no longer sustainable (neither financially nor structurally). Optimism, arising out of a national service development plan developed by the Ministry of Health (“Rising to the challenge...”), and subsequent discussion document (On Track), articulating quite transformative change, developed by the NGO sector.
While the physical structures of large psychatric asylums are long gone (the last being closed in the early 1990s), the residue of attitudes, thinking and culture from those times remain embedded in our system. 
This is why the triumvirate of strategies proposed by the IMHCN – change the thinking, change the system, change the practice – are so intuitively relevent to us in 2016.
“Rising to the challenge...” prescribes change within 4 hours overarching themes:
  • actively using current resources more effectively
  • building infrastructure between primary and specialist services
  • cemeting and builindngin gains in resilience and recovery
  • delivering increased access
On Track complements and robustly represents the kinds of changes we need to anticipate:
Big challenges; great opportunities – and encouraging activities! Some health authorities are undertaking capacity and capabilty development programmes to determine the extent to which non goverment organisations are prepared to deliver more specialist services.
Co-design initiatives are underway, grappling with issues such as access, employment, housing, integration or services and service design.
Rather than continued discussion around the on-going process of deinstitionalisation, we have overtly begun discussion about the devolution of mental health support services, from hospital campuses to community agencies and non government organisations. Service designs which are relevent to people living lives in 2016 are essential; service designs that enhance the well-being and capacity of communities are a priority.
Support our work
IMHCN relies on your support to develop our work.
You can help us as a supporter, to continue our work by making a donation via paypal here. If you wish to donate directly please contact John Stacey at

IMHCN Work in 2015 - 2016
In 2015 we held conferences and workshops on developing whole life, whole person, whole systems approaches in Plymouth, Hertfordshire, Swindon, Cornwall in England and in Caerleon in South Wales. These were well attended by a wide group of stake holders and were commended for being stimulating and thought provoking. 
We are grateful to the many international contributors who presented at these events.
We held similar events in Trieste, Italy and Lyngby, Denmark, in Rio de Janeiro, Recife, and Belem in Brazil  and in Belgrade, Serbia.
These conferences have led to further Action Learning Set programmes, bringing together mental health practitioners, service uses, family members and others to reflect on their current thinking, practice and culture. The goal is to identify and work on the challenges of creating a better life for people.
Another important part of our work has been to encourage and support shared learning between our members and this led to the development of Twinning Collaborations between the Trieste Mental Health Department, Italy and Hywel Dda University Health Board, Wales; Lyngby Municipality, Denmark and the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board and the Hertfordshire Mental Health partnership Trust.

Hearing Voices Network Cymru (Wales)
The website of HVN Cymru (IMHCN Member) provides positive messages and perspectives about hearing voices you can visit their website here.
IMHCN Membership
IMHCN brings together people, places, services and practices internationally to develop whole life - whole systems approaches to community mental health and change the thinking, practice and systems through supporting the shared learning and collaboration of our members.

Mental health organisations and individuals that aspire to the values and principles of the Network can take part in its activities (see our Charter. We are a partnership of organisations and individuals committed to describing and sharing their work through the activities of the Network. Government and non government organisations and individuals who are committed to the values and principles can join the Network. For more information contact us at

Integrated Community Care for the Needs of Vulnerable People with Severe Mental Disorders in India

Dr. Sudipto Chatterjee is a member of IMHCN. He is a psychiatrist and works in India, developing, evaluating and scaling up of locally feasible, acceptable and effective services for people with mental disorders. Especially focussed on those with severe mental disorders in low resource contexts. Here Sudipto reports on the work of the INCENSE Program

The INCENSE program was conceived as a systemic response to the challenges involved in addressing the many unmet needs of highly vulnerable people with severe mental disorders (SMDs) like Schizophrenia living within mental hospitals, in their homes and without shelter on the streets. The aim of the INCENSE program was to build on exis􀀜ng systems of care and gradually develop a systemic framework to support people with SMDs in vulnerable posi􀀜ons in a more humane and effec􀀜ve manner. This program was to be implemented by developing a multi􀀜 sectoral network of partners who could, by pooling their resources, collaboratively try and address the unmet clinical, social and humanitarian needs of persons with SMD in an integrated manner. 
The INCENSE program has worked with a large number of vulnerable persons with SMDs to promote their inclusion and recovery, with the two hospitals to develop integrated care pathways, with community based organizati􀀜ons for providing access to a range of supported housing op􀀜ons, with ins􀀜tituti􀀜ons for technical exper􀀜se and with many other agencies and individuals in the local communi􀀜es for enabling real life work opti􀀜ons, social inclusion and citi􀀜zenship.
The INCENSE Program was conducted as a partnership between: Sangath, Goa, Parivartan, Pune and Satara, Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur Regional Mental Hospital, Yerwada, Pune and supported by the TATA Trust.
You can read the Grant Completi􀀠on Report (March 2011 - June 2015) of the work of the program here
We continue to work on the Whole life - Whole Systems Approach because we believe it is the key to transforming mental health services and practices. The approach identifies the whole life needs of individuals as the foundation of determining how best to support and improve mental health and wellbeing. This is achieved by developing a common purpose owned by the wider community together with networks of services and organisations.
The objective is to establish a whole systems developmental approach that provides opportunities; appreciates assets and enables access to local communities resources, natural strengths and resilience.
We are focusing our programmes on developing collaborations with our members from around the world through conferences, consultancy and training on deinstitutionalisation and whole life - whole systems developments.
We wish to invite you to contribute to these initiatives.
You can do this in a number of ways:
  • participate in our training programmes and conferences;
  • let us know about what you are doing in your service to develop new ways of working so we can share this with others in our future newsletters and on our website
  • become a member of IMHCN as an organisation or individual
If you would like more information email our secretary Paul Baker

Copyright © 2016
International Mental health Collaborating Network 
All rights reserved.

Registered office: c/o L.M Griffiths and co., 1 - 2 Merlin Court, Winch Lane, Haverford West, SA61, 1SB
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