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History – Identity

The non-profit scientific organization Institute of Mental Health for Children and Adults (I.M.H.C.A.) was founded in Athens in 1996 and operates a Day Center for children, adolescents and adults with mental disorders, under license of the Mental Health Directorate, Ministry of Health. The Institute’s base is in Athens, within the municipality of Kallithea, and the multidisciplinary center of Attica (Departments: Adults, Children and Adolescents, Home-Based Psychiatric Treatment, Socialization Program) provides services to the community for more than fifteen consecutive years, based on the principles and methodology of social and community psychiatry. The Institute, having a major impact on the expansion and consolidation of the Psychiatric Reform Movement in the Greek provinces, operated periodically specialized centers, based on the needs and specificities of each region, in the prefectures of Fokida, Fthiotida, Xanthi, Evros and Rodopi.

The Institute’s multidisciplinary team consists of psychiatrists, psychologists, child psychiatrists, speech therapists, social workers, special educators, occupational therapists, drama therapists, music therapists and other mental health professionals. The facilities of the I.M.H.C.A. provide services to more than 400 patients per month and all associates and employees of the institution amount to 50 people.
        Within the framework of its operation, the I.M.H.C.A.  has developed significant activity in various areas of mental health services, especially: a) Individual and group therapeutic interventions,

b) Individualized rehabilitation plans,

c) Psychoeducation and family support,

d) Psychological support and psychotherapy for children, adolescents and adults,

e) Family psychological support - parental counseling,

f) Home-based psychiatric treatment

g) Departments for speech therapy, learning difficulties, career guidance,

h) Expression and creative activities groups,

i) Department of psychosocial rehabilitation, socialization and pre-vocational training for patients with mental illness.
           
The Institute’s clinical activity is divided into the following departments:
•    Department for Adults
•    Department for Children And Adolescents
•    Home-Based Psychiatric Treatment (HBPT)
•    Socialization Program
 
Alongside its purely clinical work, the contribution of the Institute includes theoretical developments and the methodological processing of mental health issues. Through constant participation in all scientific conferences in the country and in several abroad over the past decade, through the annual organization of workshops and specialized seminars, the I.M.H.C.A. partners have decisively contributed to the scientific development of the mental health sector in Greece. An integral part of the Institute’s social intervention has been, from the first day of its operation, community awareness and sensitization . Inspired and guided by the principles of social psychiatry, the Institute’s associates in all the prefectures of Greece consider their duty and a key factor for the success of their work to mobilize social forces to understand the specific nature of mental illness, to combat stigma and promote the active participation of citizens in the activities of psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of the mentally ill. With regular visits and lectures in educational and work facilities of the community, with the constant motivation of local authorities for participation in mental health service programs accessible to all citizens, with regular articles on the needs of the community regarding mental health issues and the publication and distribution of material for promoting awareness on the importance of prevention and concrete social solidarity, IMHCA associates have contributed decidedly to the long history of psychiatric reform in the country.


In brief, elements of innovation and reliability of the I.M.H.C.A. departments are the following:

•    The stability of the therapeutic framework, the reduction of the discontinuation of therapy rate and the tripling of sessions (sessions from 5,500 in 1996 to 15,500 in 2011) in the Departments for Adults, Children and Adolescents in Attica.
•    The methodic development and documentation of Home-Based Psychiatric Treatment (HBPT), which is now the foundation and basic therapeutic technique of all mobile psychiatric care units in the country. The primary purpose of HBPT is to avoid hospitalization (when possible) and the traumatic relocation of the patient away from his/her family and environment. Please note that there is no corresponding intervention unit (private or public) in the Attica region.
•    The Socialization Program model of the Day Centre which combines the psychodynamic approach with the systematic development of skills and the prevocational training of its members.

             The Institute of Mental Health for Children and Adults is a non-profit institution, on the most literal and proven concept. The quality of the I.M.H.C.A. services is of very high standards, which is reflected in the felt security and assistance of our patients. The I.M.H.C.A. revenues are derived almost exclusively from the Institute’s patients. Given the economic struggle of the entire Greek society during the recent years and our Institution’s effort to maintain its services accessible to people who have nowhere else to turn to, an effort for resources from donations and sponsorships from the private sector has begun since 2008.

Clinical Supervisor of the Institute of Mental Health for Children & Adults is, since its establishment, Professor of Psychiatry-Child Psychiatry Panagiotis Sakellaropoulos, whose long nonprofit empirical, educational and social contribution in the area of mental health, especially in primary care and de-institutionalization in the context of the Psychiatric Reform Movement, is undeniable.

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