International Mental Health Collaborating Network

Newsletter January 2017

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Dear IMHCN Supporter

Welcome to our newsletter

We wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.
2016 has been a very exciting, innovative and productive year for IMHCN.
The highlights have seen us developing new initiatives, Recovery Houses, Discovery Partner and Discovery communities that have transformed the lives of people with mental health issues.
Undoubtedly the most significant event was the “Crossroads of Change” Conference in Trieste in October. We brought together the founder partners of IMHCN with newer partners to celebrate the achievements in Community Mental Health services and practices.
Many thanks to you that attended and participated. You can see the proceedings of of this below.
It is intended to hold an international conference in Trieste in September 2017 with WHO to identify further good practices in Community Mental Health services that can be published in a WHO best practice guide.
We also held a working group in Trieste to Develop the Psychiatric Hospital in Transition Alliance in Europe. We are grateful to the 45 people who attended and contributed from Europe. This will be further developed in 2017 with workshops in other countries in Europe. 
We continue our collaboration with Intervoice and Hearing Voices Network Cymru (Wales), we are grateful for the continuing support from Hywel Davies, Chairman of Hearing Voices Wales.
We have continued our work on Whole Person, Whole Life-Whole System in trying to Change Thinking, Change Practice, Change Systems through our Action Learning Sets in Wales, England, Serbia, Malaysia, Brazil, Italy. However the challenges still remain in bringing about a culture change. We will develop new ways of trying to do this in 2017.
The Twinning Collaboration agreements were implemented with Trieste-Hywel Dda and Lyngby-ABMU-Hertfordshire.These continue to be a valuable way of sharing good practice and introducing new ways of working.
New ones will be introduced in 2017.
“New Ways of Working” workshops have been held throughout Brazil and have been attended by hundreds of interested professionals, users and family members.
                                                         Roberta Casadio from Italy joined us in 2016 as our Development Officer
Roberta Casadio has been one of the pioneers in developing and running the Recovery House in Italy. She is also working on peer support and open dialogue.
We continue to increase our membership and supporters. We now have over a 1400 members and supporters.
A significant event will take place in Trieste in January with a National celebration conference to mark the closure and community development of Italy’s Forensic Hospitals.
We held our AGM in Trieste in December 2016. We are pleased that the current Board Members wished to continue for 2017.
2017 will be a challenging year for all of us but we are sure that our commitments to improving the lives of people will endure and continue.
We hope that you enjoy this Newsletter and we would welcome your ideas of how it can be improved.

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


(Correction: The previous version of this article wrongly attributed the photograph of Nicola Kay to Rachael Maskell (MP). Please note this has been corrected in this version. Our apologies.)
2nd York Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole System, Mental Health  - A Time for Change Symposium 

The symposium brought service users, carers and the community together, to lead the thinking and to help in moving things forward.

On the 20th January 2017 in York, England the International Mental Health Collaborating Network and Tees Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust hosted the 2nd York Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole System, Mental Health  --  A Time for Change Symposium. Since the first symposium was held in April 2016 there has been considerable progress towards developing a shared vision for Mental Health in York & the region. This has being developed through strategies led by the Care Commissioning Group,
Local Authorities and others. In parallel, a small group of service-users, carers, health & social care staff and members of the community, have been meeting in a Action Learning Set. This group reflected on three themes:  working alongside the person; understanding the person’s whole life in the context of their networks and the social determinants within the wider system.

This follow-up Symposium, further promoted a joined up approach to mental health by launching an overarching, independently chaired, mental health network for York and the region.
It also considered:

  • feedback from the action learning set members
  • reviewed experiences and innovative approaches in other cities and regions
  • considered how appropriate national and regional developments such as personal health budgets, integrated personalised commissioning, and the sustainability and transformation plan can best support the mental health needs of the community
We shared our ideas, plans and strategies, and considered how best these can be integrated and implemented to move closer to a shared vision for mental health and well-being. We focussed on engaging and empowering the community to support and celebrate mental health rather than stigmatising it, as it very much remains “everybody’s business”

Dr Roberto Mezzina, the Director of Mental Health in Trieste, talked in more detail about how they made the changes that led to the international recognition that they have since enjoyed. An important part was their use of personal health budgets to develop community pathways. He is very keen to support us further and one suggestion is that we might enter a twinning collaboration with Trieste, to support mutual learning.

You can read his presentation on Trieste Whole Life-Whole System Experience: How was it developed, how does it work, and what are the outcomes? here.

With key leaders attending, including Rachael Maskell, the local member of parliament, there was a focus on working together, to create a whole person, whole life, whole system approach for York and Region. This aligns well with both organisational and national strategies, including the drive towards integration and accountable care. 

See more details about the event and the presentations here.


Discovery Partners: Facilitating and Enabling the Persons Whole Life Discovery Journey
Many people are using mental health services for long periods of time. These are people who can take up a lot of time and resources including: requiring the support of emergency services (police, ambulance, accident and emergency); frequent readmissions to acute hospital services; requiring placements in specialist residential services (including out of area); are a significant proportion of the clients of community mental health teams; are often subject to repeated sectioning under the mental health act; are often seen to be at risk and not in receipt of appropriate support. 

To address this need IMHCN has designed a based a programme based on identifying and working toward meeting the whole life needs and goals of people. We achieve this by working on a one to one basis and setting achievable shared objectives and outcomes. This way of working with people is not easy to realise in many places because of the immense pressure on services and mental health workers . Therefore very often they do not have the time and space to do this work. The IMHCN team has developed a way of meeting this need called Discovery Partners. You can read more about the programme here.

Psychiatric Hospitals In Transition Alliance

We held a planning meeting in December hosted by the Trieste Mental Health Department.
The meeting was attended by 45 people from many countries in Europe.
The purpose of the working group was to bring together partners and experiences developed in Europe around the issue of the improvement of quality of care in institutions, with the objective of fulfilling human rights, citizenship and moving towards the phasing out of asylums and the development of comprehensive community based services. Social exclusion remains the condition of many people with severe mental health problems, either in institutions or in the society, leading to discrimination, stigmatization and loss of rights. - 
We agreed to further develop the initiative and to seek more psychiatric hospital partners to join in the programme.
See more about the alliance here.

Whole Life Whole System Action Learning Sets 
IMHCN has been developing and facilitating Action Learning Sets in the UK, Italy, Palestine and Malaysia and Serbia for the last three years. We will be continuing to develop these partnerships over the next year. In some cases in the UK (Hywel Dda Health Board,  Aneurin Bevan Health Board and the Tees, Weir and Esk Valley Health Trust) this has led to new thinking as to how mental health services will be organised to better meet the needs of the communities they serve.
In 2016 IMHCN organised a successful exchange programmes between Hywel Dda Health Board and the Trieste Mental Health Department as part of the Twinning Collaboration which enhanced the learning of the Action Learning Sets and the transformation of their services.
IMHCN are in discussion with the Health Boards to develop similar collaborations with other Health boards in 2017.

During the three days we reflected on what had been achieved since the start of the program, discussed how to take the learning forward and the development of a Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole System and Recovery Approach Network in Serbia.

A Whole Life-Whole System Network for Serbia
The Action Learning Set was held over three days in Belgrade in May 2015 and themed: "Service User, Family Member and professional “Trialogue” and was a continuation of our work in 2015.
During the three days we reflected on what had been achieved since the start of the program, discussed how to take the learning forward and the development of a Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole System and Recovery Approach Network in Serbia.
A Whole Life-Whole System Network for Serbia is being developed and we will be continuing to support this work in 2017. See more about this work here.

Our plans for 2017

International Convention, Johor Bahru, Malaysia, 18th - 20th April 2017
Details of this event will be available on our website shortly.

All Wales International Conference, All Nations Conference Centre, Cardiff, 18-19th July 2017
Following on from our successful International conferences at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in 2104 in 205 we a hloding a further conference this year.  This conference will be co-hosting with Public Health Wales and ourselves on the theme of the whole person, whole life, whole systems. Check our website for further details which will be available shortly.
INTERVOICE conference, Boston, USA
The World Hearing Voices Congress will be held in the United States this year. Be sure to mark your calendars now!. August 16-18, 2017 Boston University, Boston, MA, USA. More information here.

Brazil New Approaches June 1st - 3rd, 2017 in Rio de Janiero.
IMHCN with our Brazilian partner CENAT (Centro Educacional Novas Abordagens Terapeuticas) will be hosting a national forum on new approaches to mental health in Rio de Janeiro in August. The international presenters will be Martijn Kole (Enik Recovery College, Netherlands) and Oryx Cohen (National Empowerment Center, USA) both well known for their work on peer led recovery approaches. More information here.
International Conference, Trieste, Italy, September 2017
This conference will follow up the successful Crossroads for Change Conference held in October, 2016. It will focus on good practice in community mental health. It will be hosted by Trieste Mental Health Department in collaboration with the World Health Organisationand IMHCN.

Development work
  • Further work in York and Region is planned to further develop the mental health network and work towards a whole life whole system strategy and through further collaboration with Trieste.
  • The twinning collaboration between Hywel Dda Health Board, West Wales and Trieste Mental Health Department, Italy will continue with the aim of assisting Hywel Dda in the transformation of their mental health services. 
  • We continue to work with the Trieste Mental Health Department in developing the Recovery Learning Community and Recovery House and peer led initiates, we are following up the Action Learning Sets held in 2016 in Trieste, Hywel Dda with a Symposium.
  • We will continue to work with the Aneurin Bevan Health Board in developing the Whole life Whole Systems Acute and Crisis Service and practice.
  • We are continuing discussions with Cornwall Mental Health Trust on the Discovery Partner and Discovery Community Programme. A workshop will be held  later this year.
  • The IMHCN is a partner with a consortium in Poland that develop community mental health services. We are supporting this work and several events will be held.
  • IMHCN will be working with our partner Alternative Futures Group over the next year to support and assist them in the development of a trauma informed recovery community in Manchester.
  • The work on community mental health development in Palestine will be continued over the next two years. IMHCN will continue to support this.

Our work in 2016

The meeting hosted by the Trieste Mental Health Department and IMHCN was an opportunity to share leading experiences in a Whole Life, Whole Systems, Whole Community Approach to Mental Health Services and Practices. The Think-Tank was held on the 17th-18th October 2016, in Trieste, Italy. The aim of this Think-Tank Conference was to bring this wealth of experience together in a workshop style discourse and learning. We will use the methodology of Action Learning Sets to facilitate this to get the maximum benefit as practical outcomes for us.
We will also used the opportunity to begin to compile a compendium of our best practices and leading experiences and share this with mental health services around the world.
The compendium of best practices will be used to inform the development of a WHO Quality Rights guidance on community based and recovery oriented services that respect and promote human rights as part of the overall WHO QualityRights initiative, which works to improve quality and rights in mental health around the world.
It is planned that this meeting will be the first step in a larger conference on this topic to be held in 2017.
We will focus our program and work on the Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole Systems, Whole Community Approach.
You can see the full description of the event, the programme and pdf's of twenty presentations on the Treiste Mental Health Department website here

Trieste Recovery Learning Community & Recovery House: 18 months later 

"It is the community that changes together with the people that are part of it. It is the community that take care of individual journeys of people, families, services, and territory in which meetings are the ground in which change happens through the dialogue."
Izabel Marin, Roberta Casadio and Paul Baker provide an update of the progress made in establishing the Recovery House and Recovery Learning community in Trieste, Italy. This article consider the challenges, the learnings and the achievements so far. You can read the article here
Psychiatric hospital reform in India
Tasneem Raja, the Senior Program Officer at Sir Dorabji Tata Trust provides an overview of the issues facing India in reforming psychiatric hospital care.
Global mental health reforms emphasise the development of community-based and primary care mental health but are silent about SMD patients in large institutions. Given the lack of feasibility of closing down psychiatric institutions in most low and middle income countries, ‘Uddan’ is a collaborative program of Tata Trusts with the Government of Maharashtra addressing institutional reform in the Nagpur Regional Mental Hospital in the state of Maharashtra in India. The program aims to demonstrate a feasible an evidence based process of reform that has implication not just across all the 43 mental hospitals of India but also for other low and middle income countries.
You can read the article here

News from IMHCN Members

Hearing Voices Network Cymru (Wales)
The Milford Haven Meeting
Hywel Davies and John Stacey describe their work with a group of people who hear voices. The success of the group raises questions about how mental health services are often not able to provide time and space for people and to develop reciprocal trusting relationships and support. You can read the full article here.
The website of HVN Cymru (IMHCN Member) provides positive messages and perspectives about hearing voices you can visit their website here.

Brazil 2016
“New Ways of Working” workshops have been held throughout Brazil and have been attended by hundreds of interested professionals, users and family members. In collaboration with CENAT (Centro Educacional Novas Abordagens Terapeuticas) Paul Baker and Roberta Casadio held workshops in Rio de Janerio in June, whilst Paul also facilitated workshops in Marilia, Campinas Recife, Joao Pessoa and Sao Paulo. In November Paul returned to Brazil where workshops were held in Curatiba, Porto Allegre and Imperatriz.
Metamorphosis of Mental Health Services: Innovative approaches in Malaysia, April 2016
The Convention was organised by our partner Hospital Permai, Johor Bahru Badan Pendidikan Psychiatry in  collaboration with the International Mental Health Collaborating Network (IMHCN) and the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation.
Each day the International Mental Health Collaborating Network (IMHCN) ran Action Learning Sets and Workshops. To introduce an Whole Person, Whole Life, Whole System and Recovery Approach to Mental Health. See more about the convention here.

Compendium of Best Practice and Leading Experiences
We are compiling a compendium of our best practices and leading experiences to share with mental health services around the world.
The compendium of best practices will be used to inform the development of a WHO Quality Rights guidance on community based and recovery oriented services that respect and promote human rights.
This is part of the overall WHO Quality Rights initiative, which works to improve quality and rights in mental health around the world.
We want to hear from your organisation. If you are interested in being included in the compendium please contact IMHCN at
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

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.

IMHCN FaceBook Discussion Group has over 600 members

We now have a FaceBook discussion and information group. It is open to supporters of the International Mental Health Collaborative Network.
Here we 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.
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
Hertfordshire opens its’ Wellbeing College

New Leaf opened its’ doors to the people of Hertfordshire in November – a Wellbeing College built, in part, on the Recovery College Model delivering learning within an adult educational framework across both physical and mental health needs. Andrew Nicholls, Head of Recovery and Psychological Services describes the aims of this new initiative. You can read the article here and visit the college website here.


Latest News from IMHCN

Check out our latest news from the website.

Regular updates of our activities here.


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International Mental health Collaborating Network 
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