Deinstitutionalization of mental patients: when the third sector fills the emptiness
Centre for Social Studies University of Coimbra Coimbra, Portugal
Centre of Social Studies / School of Economics University of Coimbra Coimbra, Portugal
A process of deinstitutionalization of mental patients is undergoing in the portuguese health system. In spite of hospitals are not accepting more patients, no other alternatives of care are being created by the state. The responsibility for answering patients and families? needs is mainly undertaken for organizations of the third sector. Associations of patients, relatives and health care professionals are the main providers of support in the area of mental health.
Although these organizations have a crucial role in the process of deinstitutionalization, their action only responds partially to the needs of patients and families. Financial problems, dependency of voluntary work and complex relations with the state are actual obstacles to their work.
This paper presents the results of a set of interviews with members of associations, analyzing potentialities and constraints of these organizations. Through this analysis we intend to discuss their place in the undergoing process of deinstitutionalization.