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International conference explores community mental health services in Trieste

Health experts and professionals from the South Eastern Europe Health Network (SEEHN) gathered in Trieste for a two-day conference on 18-19 December 2023, titled 'Community Mental Health Services in the SEEHN MSS - WBS and Beyond: Challenges, Progress, and Boost-Up Policies.' The gathering aimed to explore and share insights on challenges, progress, and policies surrounding community mental health services.

Ms. Mira Jovanovski Dasic, Director of the SEEHN Secretariat, emphasised the importance of the 'Trieste model' in mental health as the best global example of community mental health services.

The event featured a diverse programme, including presentations on the historical evolution of mental health services in Trieste, roundtable discussions on international cooperation projects, and sessions dedicated to personalised projects, rehabilitation, social inclusion, and psychosocial support. Attendees delved into a comprehensive exploration of Trieste's role in shaping mental health policies, with a particular focus on work inclusion and employment support.

Direct experiences from the Friuli Venezia Giulia Region as a whole were also shared through concrete examples and personal stories. The role of stakeholders, users, and family associations was explored through personal experiences and peer support. The representative of the Mental Health Area ASUGI recalled the history of mental health services in the region and in Trieste, explaining how the transition from closed psychiatric hospitals and asylums to community mental health centers had taken place. An overview of the main policies and national laws was also provided to underscore the importance of citizens' rights.

The CEI - Executive Secretariat was represented by Ana Sinkovic, Focal Point for Health Strategies and Emergencies Response, who highlighted the importance of regional cooperation for the CEI as the main tool to foster European integration and sustainable development. She explained how Health had become a priority for the Organisation, especially following the onset of COVID-19. This has thus led to a fruitful partnership with the WHO Regional Office for Europe (WHO/Europe) and later with SEEHN.

The conference culminated in a series of field visits to facilities and services in Trieste, providing firsthand insights into successful models and initiatives.
Participants left with a renewed commitment to advancing community mental health services and fostering global collaboration in this vital area of healthcare.

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