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Record number of participants for the 11th World Congress of Psychosocial Rehabilitation

The 11th World Congress of Psychosocial Rehabilitation, supported by the World Association for Psychosocial Rehab (WAPR) and organised by AIM Group International at the Fiera Milano City (MICO), took place from 10 to 13 November this year.  The Congress, organised for the first time in Italy, reached a record of participants:  well over 1450 attendees participated from 70 countries around the world.

Many different topics were covered during the four days in Milan, among which were these burning issues: the debate on the social determinants of mental disorders, the impact of the economic crisis in terms of youth depression and the actual effectiveness of drugs, both in the treatment of psychosis and of common disorders.

"The organisation of this edition has been an exciting challenge" - opened Dr. Angelo Barbato, President of the Congress. In the midst of a severe economic crisis, in one of the most affected European countries, the WAPR Congress managed to make his way nearly without commercial contributions. It is due to all the various players in the psycho-social rehabilitation (psychiatrists, psychologists, professional educators, technicians of psycho-social rehabilitation, social cooperatives, nurses, mental health services, users...), that the creation of a stimulating Scientific Program was possible with more than 750 abstracts received, more than 500 accepted and represented in the different sessions and in the poster area.

The Organising Committee, Scientific Secretariat and Organising Secretariat worked together to find the best solutions relying on limited economic resources.  These joint efforts ensured that not only the resulting exemplary Technical and Scientific Organisation, but the ability to add "extras" into the program.  The organisers were thrilled to include theatrical performances "La Goccia" within the project "Theatre and Mental Health", one of the initiatives coordinated by the Department of Social Quality from the city of Imola.  They also introduce the Café Philo with photography, an innovative proposal that combines the cultural stimulus to the pleasure of being together for networking along with another photo exhibition "Invisibili Solitudini" – which is the mental illness shown through images - already presented at the 46th National Congress of the Italian Society of Psychiatry and in conjunction with the World Mental Health Day.

Values, ethic commitments, science, heart have been the common thread (fil rouge) of the Congress: a sharing of risks and responsibilities started from the very beginning, then through all the preparations – and continued during these four days in Milan - to really show the theme of the 11th World Congress: CHANGING IDEAS, PRACTICES, SERVICES.  Not only demonstrated in the psycho-social rehabilitation, this was also realised in the organisation of this milestone event.

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