WORLD ASSOCIATION FOR PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION
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. WAPR has continued its links with the mental health programmes of WHO since its beginnings. Involvement of patients, service users, family members and voluntary organizations has also been emphasized, as well as maintained in this organization with their worldwide representation on the WAPR board. Furthermore interdisciplinary is valued and encouraged in the various parts of the WAPR organization and networks.
The growth of the WAPR during the years has reflected the increasing importance of the prevention and reduction of psycho-social problems both on individual and societal levels. In WAPR all aspects of psycho-social rehabilitation are emphasized within a framework of the long-term community care and support for people experiencing severe mental illnesses. Today, the WAPR is recognized as a non-governmental organization with consultative status 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.
WAPR is run by an International Board of Directors that is elected every three years. The Board also includes representatives of service users, families and voluntary organizations, as well representatives based in Geneva and New York, to link with WHO and UN agencies. WAPR has more than 80 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, service users, family members, and advocacy associations. This is because a central objective for WAPR is to provide to all stakeholders a forum for the ongoing discussion of the relevant issues concerning the human rights, personal and social needs and the long-term needs of people with severe mental health problems.
Mission and goals
WAPR’s mission is to dissemination of principles and practices of recovery and a solid knowledgebase about psychosocial rehabilitation. In this context, in 1996 WHO & WAPR endorsed a joint consensus statement that incorporated concepts, perspectives and practices of recovery & rehabilitation. Psychosocial Rehabilitation was defined as a process that facilitates the opportunity for persons experiencing impairment, disability or handicap following mental illness to reach their optimal level of functioning in the community and citizenship. It implies recovery, strength and resource oriented principles and practices both in supporting individuals’ competencies and introducing environmental changes.
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 mental illnesses
- international exchange of experiences and best practices in the field of recovery and psychosocial rehabilitation in the mental health field
- organisation of training opportunities for health professionals, to introduce strategies for recovery and psychosocial rehabilitation in specialist and primary health care services
- consultation to local, national and international agencies to promote more rehabilitation – and recovery oriented services educational programmes to ensure maximum public, professional and government understanding of the needs and rights of people with long term mental illnesses
- enhancement of the development and organization of service users’ and families’ associations, of peer-work and self-help groups of individuals and carers 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 psychosocial rehabilitation of people with long term mental health problems within a community-based care approach
- technical assistance to developing countries with regard to the funding and development of community based psychosocial rehabilitation programmes research on innovative approaches to the integrated care of persons with mental health problems
- definition of standards, benchmarks and quality improvement tools in relation to rehabilitation and recovery oriented community care.
As can be seen, WAPR is at the same time a scientific society, a multi-disciplinary professional organisation and an advocacy group. We welcome everybody interested in fighting the stigma and social exclusion of citizens experiencing severe mental illness and their families & would actively engage them n promoting more empowering and community including situations for persons experiencing severe mental illnesses, with available and accessible care, treatment and support.
Details about WAPR and its activities can be found at the following website.
The WAPR publishes a Bulletin three times annually, while the International Journal of Mental Health edited in New York by a WAPR past President, Martin Gittelman (USA), and serves as a medium for publication of scientific papers and conference proceedings related to various aspects of psychosocial rehabilitation.
Professor Marit Borg (Norway) is the editor of WAPR Bulletin and the latest copies of The Bulletins can be viewed at WAPR website www.wapr.info .Dr Ricardo Guinea (Spain) is the editor of WAPR webpage.
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 Seoul, South Korea in November 2015.
Dr Afzal Javed