Mission and goals
The mission of the WAPR is the dissemination of principles and practices of psychosocial rehabilitation. In the WHO/WAPR consensus statement jointly endorsed in 1996, psychosocial rehabilitation is defined as a process that facilitates the opportunity for individuals impaired, disabled or handicapped by a mental disorder to reach their optimal level of functioning in the community. It implies both improving individuals’ competencies and introducing environmental changes in order to improve their quality of life.
Within this broad frame of reference, the WAPR’s activities cover a number of areas:
- Promotion of national and international legislation, policies and programmes to meet the basic and special needs of people with a mental illness
- International exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of rehabilitation of mental disorders
- Organization of training opportunities for health professionals, to introduce strategies for psychosocial rehabilitation in specialist and primary health care services
- Consultation to local, national and international agencies to promote improved care, rehabilitation and services for people with a mental illness
- Educational programmes to ensure maximum public, professional and government understanding of the needs and rights of people with disabling mental illnesses
- Enhancement of the development and organization of consumers’ and families’ associations, and mutual and self-help groups of individuals and carers affected by disabling mental illnesses
- Promotion of open dialogue among consumers, policy makers and professionals
- collaboration with the UN, the WHO and the International Labour Office, by supporting the strategies for the treatment and rehabilitation of people with a mental disability within a community-based care approach
- Technical assistance to developing countries with regard to the funding and development of community based rehabilitation programmes
- Research on innovative approaches to the integrated care of people with mental disorders
- Definition of standards, benchmarks and quality improvement tools in relation to community care.
As can be seen, the WAPR is at the same time a scientific society, a multi-disciplinary professional organisation and an advocacy group. We will welcome everybody interested in fighting the disability related to mental disorders and raising the quality of life of people with mental illnesses.
The World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR) was established in 1986 in France, when about 100 professionals from 35 countries met at its founding congress. This congress was preceded by an extensive international planning process, which began with the First World Congress on Rehabilitation for the Mentally Ill in Helsinki, in 1970. Subsequent meetings of key professionals and agency representatives from various countries, mainly supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Office, resulted in the formation, in 1980, of a promoting group, which planned, through its international secretariat, the foundation of the WAPR. Therefore, close links with the mental health programme of the WHO have been maintained by the WAPR since its beginnings. Dr Benedetto Saraceno, past director of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, was President of the WAPR between 1993 and 1996.
WAPR has organized 12 World Congresses, one every three years, in all regions (Barcelona, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Paris, New York, Athens, Bangalore, Milano; the last, Seoul 2015), and numberless national or regional conferences. WAPR also organized trainings in collaboration with local partners. WAPR also operates as technical advisor of local policymakers in mental health.
The growth of the WAPR in the following years reflected the increasing importance of the prevention and reduction of social disability as a framework for the long-term community care of people with severe mental disorders. Today, the WAPR is recognised as a non-governmental organization having interaction with the WHO, the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council, and the International Labour Office. Moreover, it also maintains relations with the European Commission and the African Rehabilitation Institute.
Currently, the WAPR has a 47-member International Board of Directors, which includes six past Presidents and a Regional Vice-President with one or more deputies for each of the six regions of the world, following the regional structure of the WHO. Moreover, the Board includes representatives of consumers, families and voluntary organisations, as well as permanent representatives located in Geneva and New York, to link with WHO and UN agencies.
More than 40 national secretaries represent the same number of national chapters across the world. Membership of the WAPR is open not only to mental health professionals but also to researchers of various disciplines, administrators, policy makers, consumers and their relatives, and advocacy associations. This is because the primary aim of the WAPR is to provide to all stakeholders a forum for the ongoing discussion of the relevant issues concerning the long-term care of people with mental disorders.
The WAPR publishes a quarterly Bulletin. Marit Borg (Norway) is the main editor of WAPR bulletin, seconded by Tae-Yeon Wang (Rep. of Korea) and Ricardo Guinea (Spain). The latest copies of the Bulletins can be viewed at www.wapr.org
Local bulletins are published by several national branches, such as in Spain, South Africa and India.
The next WAPR world congress will be held in Madrid, Spain, in the spring of 2018.