Present and future role of Mental Illness Advocacy Associations in the management of the mentally ill: realities, needs and hopes at the edge of the third millennium


Corresponding author: Paolo Lucio Morselli, Vice President, Fondazione IDEA, Secretary General, GAMIAN – Europe, Fondazione IDEA and GAMIAN-Europe, Via Statuto 8, I-20121 Milano, Italy. Tel: +39 02 65 39 94; fax: +39 02 65 47 16; e-mail:


Objective: The purpose of the present review is the analysis of the development and current status of the Mental Illness Advocacy Movement in the USA and in Europe, as well as of the role such a movement is playing in the management of the mentally ill.

Methods: Information on the issue has been collected via literature search and several personal inquiries and contacts with different Mental Illness Advocacy Groups in the USA and in Europe.

Results: The findings indicate that the Mental Illness Advocacy Movement is very alive and in full growth. Its role in the management of the mentally ill has become more and more important over the years. In several countries, it makes it possible to overcome some of the deficiencies of the National or Private Health Services. Thanks to the actions of the various Mental Illness Advocacy Groups, today, patients and families are more and better informed of their conditions and their rights. In many cases, this results in earlier diagnosis, better compliance and better outcomes. However, despite significant improvement in the status of the mentally ill patient, much still remains to be done.

Conclusions: We need an improved dialogue with mental heath providers, public administrators, mental health policy makers, mass media and politicians. The dialogue between primary care team and the specialist must also be improved. A global alliance for action is needed to ensure better and more available services to those who suffer from mental disorders.