Toward transformative change in community mental health: Introduction to the Special Issue


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Community mental health systems, across the globe,, have always been in a continuous state of evolution. For, about 50 years in North America, beginning with the, first steps toward deinstitutionalization and the, beginnings of the community mental health movement,, there have been efforts to create systems of support for, people with serious mental illnesses to thrive in, community life. Community psychologists have been, actively involved in these efforts, including George, Fairweather’s Lodge program in the 1960s, Ed Seidman, and Julian Rappaport’s work with the Grow mutual aid, organization in the 1980s, and Sam Tsemberis’, development of Housing First in the 1990s. Over the, past decade or so, we have observed, internationally,, various calls and plans for not only improving mental, health systems, but also for transforming them. The call, for transformation speaks to a lingering dissatisfaction, and a desire for fundamentally different kinds of, systems. Still, many questions remain. What should a, transformed system look like? What are the, perspectives or values that should underlie it? Do we, need a single or a common system, or is there a need, for many systems, informed by different perspectives, and values? How can we promote transformative, change and how would we distinguish transformative, from merely ameliorative change? This special issue of, the Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, (GJCPP) aims to help further this discussion. Certainly,, in the contributions we have assembled here we can, claim no clear or simple solutions. What we can offer, are examples of the range of ideas, actions, and levels, of actions that can be considered in the quest for, transformed community mental health systems. In the, following paragraphs, we sketch our initial thoughts on, the historical roots, needs and the nature of, transformative change.

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