Intended for healthcare professionals


Trieste’s mental healthcare model is under threat, claim supporters of the community based approach

BMJ 2021; 373 doi: (Published 21 June 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;373:n1597
  1. Michael Day
  1. London

Experts in Italy and beyond claim that right wing politicians are seeking to dismantle one of the world’s most celebrated and progressive mental healthcare systems, established in the port of Trieste.

The city’s mental healthcare model, based on the theories of the reforming psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, who believed that psychiatry in large institutions unfairly ostracised people with mental problems, has seen a radical switch to community based care.

While it is not without controversy, proponents of the Trieste system in Italy and around the world say that it is more humane, more effective, and even economically more viable.

But political upheavals, organisational changes, and encroaching privatisation in the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, have led to an outcry among professionals and some politicians who say that the system is under attack, although the regional government denies this.

Political control

The fears have led to a petition on to “save Trieste’s mental health system,” signed by eminent mental health experts. The petition claims that the region’s right wing regional government, “on poorly informed and ideological grounds, is fast and impulsively dismantling Trieste’s wonderful system of community care . . . that has made Trieste a beacon of hope for the world’s most vulnerable citizens.”1

Among the …

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