People who experienced a mental illness

In Slezská diakonie we have the opportunity to participate in reforming the mental healthcare whose goal is to provide early, complex and professional support to people who have experience with mental illnesses. The aim is also to provide local availability of services, especially in smaller towns and villages.

Collocations like complex support or local availability sound rather cold. However, they are necessary conditions for people with mental illnesses to accept their burden and learn to cope with it.

The local availability is secured by a network of our centres providing the service of social rehabilitation which is the backbone of our reform in terms of social services. In the field, there are 7 teams in operation (in the towns of Bruntál, Krnov, Nový Jíčín, Český Těšín, Třinec, Frýdek-Místek and Bohumín), since January 2019, colleagues from Karviná will join us to create another team.

Author of the picture Filip Roszka

It should be noted that these teams are not permanently mobile as of yet.

In terms of the complex and professional care, we decided to develop services that focus on recovery.

Recovery is a deeply personal, unique process of change in one’s own views, feelings, values, goals, abilities and roles. It is a way how to live happy, hopeful and resourceful life in spite of all limitations caused by illness. Recovery creates a new meaning of life by overcoming the catastrophic consequences caused by a mental illness. (Anthony, 1993)

If we wish to really develop services focused on recovery, it is not enough to just endorse them. The services focused on recovery differ from their traditional counterparts in a number of aspects – the approach towards the clients, the ways and means of communication with them, specific methods of work, organisation and staffing of the service.

The current challenge is related to the last point mentioned above. To develop multidisciplinary cooperation or in other words to extend the teams of social workers by hiring professionals – psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses with the appropriate specialisation to name a few. Here, I would like to add that a multidisciplinary team working in the field is the basis of support for those with a serious mental illness because the support is provided in their natural environment. However, the team still has to cooperate with a wide range of people, organisations and institutions, be it family members and friends of the clients, employers, teachers, companies providing flats for rent, municipalities or even politicians…

After each session of mental health support, the professional should ask himself:

Even though the future is uncertain and there might be failures, did I persist in expressing support in achieving goals that the client had set out for himself, did I entertain his hopes and positive expectations?

This practical tip is not only suitable for direct work with the clients but it also to bear in mind when developing the services of Slezská diakonie in the area of mental healthcare.

Jana Jourová
Centre coordinator in Slezská diakonie