Georgia: Promoting the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities

March 16-17-18, 2016

Two weeks ago we were invited as partners to a workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia to promote the rights of children and adults with mental illnesses. The workshop was organized by the Gulbenkian Foundation Global Mental Health Platform.

These were three intense days working alongside the Georgian Ministry of Labour Health and Social Affairs, the Global Initiative on Psychiatry and numerous local stakeholders. The workshop’s goal was to draft a road map for a three-year plan to deinstitutionalize Georgia’s mental health system. High-level international experts such as Graham Thornicroft (King’s College, UK), Helen Killapsy (UCL), Michelle Funk (WHO) and Angelo Barbato (Mario Negri Institute, Italy) also attended the meeting, bringing to the table their own experience and input.

Round tables were set up to discuss how to improve their conditions through deinstitutionalization, recalling the thematic paper coproduced by the WHO and the Gulbenkian Foundation Global Mental Health Platform, “Promoting Rights and Community living for children with psychosocial disabilities”.

Fondation d’Harcourt’s managing director Gaia Montauti and the Associazione Cittadinanza Onlus were invited to share their own experiences in promoting rights of persons with mental illnesses. In her presentation, Gaia highlighted the strategy and outcomes of two of Fondation d’Harcourt’s projects: the MEO Center in Cibitoke, ran by our partner AVSI, and the support network for mentally ill patients and their families in Rome, ran by the Don Luigi di Liegro foundation. These two projects provided concrete examples of successful strategies that could also be applied to community-based services in Georgia.

We are extremely pleased to have helped in drafting Georgia’s future steps toward deinstitutionalization. As everyone involved in the workshop, Fondation d’Harcourt strongly believes that persons affected by a mental disorder should be treated with the same humanity and offered the same opportunities as any other individual. Many closed mental institutions have indeed proven to be counterproductive in treating patients with the respect and care that they deserve and should therefore be closed. This will allow us to move towards a community-based mental health system which is more in line with the rights and needs of people suffering from a mental illness.

To read more about the Gulbenkian Foundation and WHO’s papers on global mental health here.