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Challenges for psychosocial rehabilitation services in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area: A qualitative approach

Felipe Szabzon, Julian Perelman, Sónia Dias
Health & Social Care in the Community 2019 March 19
In Portugal, a mental health reform process is in place aiming to redefine the model of service provision. In 2008, a National Mental Health Plan (NMHP) was approved to provide policy guidance over the transition period. The NMHP intended, among others, to develop community-based services, with a specific focus on rehabilitation and deinstitutionalization. This study aims to explore the perspectives of service managers of psychosocial rehabilitation services regarding the main challenges to support the community living of persons with severe mental illnesses (PWSMI) in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area (LMA). The paper also contextualises the provision of psychosocial services within the country's mental health reform process and characterises the profile of service users in socio-occupational units (SOUs) of the LMA. Semi-structured interviews were performed with all SOUs' managers of the LMA (n = 13). Information regarding service user characteristics was collected based on service records (n = 344). Interviews were analysed according to the framework methodology. The results of the interviews were triangulated using document analysis. Fieldwork took place between June and July 2016. The findings suggest that the development of the mental health reform ensured significant changes to service delivery. Community-based mental health organisations are an important actor for service provision. However, important asymmetries were identified in the provision of psychosocial care within the LMA. At the same time, family carers are perceived as responsible for ensuring a large part of the social needs of the PWSMI but there is an increasing concern with their own ageing processes. As a conclusion, it is highlighted the current inequality between services and the need to contemplate a life-course perspective that comprehends the ageing process of caregivers poses an emerging challenge for psychosocial rehabilitation. These findings are also important for other low- and middle-income countries passing through similar reforms.


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