Our history

The World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation (WAPR) has a rich history that dates back to its establishment in 1986 in France. With a strong foundation laid through international planning and collaboration, WAPR has become a prominent non-governmental organization focused on the prevention and reduction of social disability in the context of long-term community care for individuals with severe mental disorders.

Founding Congress

In 1986, approximately 100 professionals from 35 countries convened at the founding congress of WAPR in France. This landmark event followed an extensive international planning process that originated from the First World Congress on Rehabilitation for the Mentally Ill held in Helsinki in 1970. Key professionals and agency representatives from various countries, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Office, laid the groundwork for the establishment of WAPR through a promoting group formed in 1980.

Strong Ties with WHO

From its inception, WAPR has maintained close links with the mental health program of the World Health Organization. This relationship has played a crucial role in shaping WAPR's mission and initiatives over the years. Dr. Benedetto Saraceno, the past director of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, served as President of WAPR between 1993 and 1996.

World Congresses and Conferences

Over the years, WAPR has organized 13 World Congresses, held once every three years, in various regions across the globe. These congresses have been held in cities such as Barcelona, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Paris, New York (2003), Athens (2006), Bangalore (2009), Milano (2012), and Seoul (2015). Additionally, WAPR has been instrumental in conducting numerous national and regional conferences, providing a platform for knowledge exchange and collaboration.

Training Initiatives

As part of its commitment to promoting psychosocial rehabilitation, WAPR collaborates with local partners to organize training programs. These initiatives aim to equip mental health professionals with the necessary skills and knowledge to improve the lives of individuals living with mental health challenges.

Recognition and Partnerships

The growth and impact of WAPR have led to its recognition as a non-governmental organization with consultative status at various esteemed international organizations. WAPR holds consultative status with the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council, and the International Labour Office.
Moreover, the organization also maintains valuable relations with the European Commission and the African Rehabilitation Institute.

With its extensive history and global reach, the World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation continues to play a pivotal role in advancing the field of mental health and social rehabilitation. Through its advocacy, conferences, and partnerships, WAPR remains committed to improving the lives of those affected by severe mental disorders and promoting inclusive community care worldwide.