International School


Transforming Mental Health Services and Practices: Whole Person, Whole Life-Whole Systems Development   

International Mental Health Learning, Development and Training School

Provided by IMHCN in partnership with National and International organisations


Many organisations and practitioners involved in mental health are recognising that existing models of care and treatments do not address the whole life needs of people.

There has been a lack of attention to addressing the Social Determinants of Mental Health.

The effect of Covid-19 on people’s mental health has recognised that community mental health services and practices need to be substantially strengthened, whilst institutions need to be overcome.

There is a need for best practices to be better understood and made available more universally.

The IMHCN promoted and started a Coalition of Coalitions to identify the effects of Covid on people’s mental health.

The coalition partners are:

  • International Mental Health Collaborating Network
  • World Federation for Mental Health
  • World Association for Psychosocial Rehabilitation
  • Mental Health Europe
  • European Community based Mental Health Service Providers Network (EUCOMS)
  • Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIAN)
  • Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI)
  • Italian Society of Psychiatric Epidemiology (SIEP)
  • Transforming Australia’s Mental Health Service System, Incorporated

Together we identified 12 Big issues that need attention in a published Action Plan.

See here:

The International School is how we intend to continue this work with our Partners and others who would like to join this campaign. The International Mental Health Learning, Development and Training School aims to address the need and help to transform mental health services and practices across the world.

As part of this there is a fundamental need to understand the importance of and to take action on the Social Determinants of Mental Health, in order to address social inequalities and their impact on health at the individual and collective level.

Over the last 40 years we have been advocating for systemic change in mental health services through our work with our members and partners. The need for change has become more urgent during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

There has been successes and improvements across the world with many good practices in countries. Now it is more necessary, then ever, to learn from these positive experiences. 

However many places have not learnt from these experiences and they have not made the significant improvements in the lives of people with mental health issues. 

In many places little or nothing has changed from the dominant reliance on institutional services and practices and over the narrow biomedical model. Even worse, the outdated belief that people cannot recover still pertains as a prevailing attitude.Therefore IMHCN has decided to focus its work in the future in the improvement and strengthening of community mental health services as a Whole Person, Whole Life-Whole System Strategic Approach.

What is most needed today is the convergence of human rights approaches and person centredness within a comprehensive, strong and effective, accountable and responsible community based service. This requires a multi-sectoral approach, in co-production with the Third Sector and citizen’s participation.

IMHCN, with our members, partners and supporters are developing the International Learning Developing and Training School to assist places in their transformation of mental health services and practices.

The aims and objectives of the School are to;

  • Assist Mental Health providers in the transformation of their services and practices 
  • To help organisations to develop a Whole Person, Whole Life-Whole System Strategy
  • To increase the knowledge of mental health workers in the social determinants of mental health
  • To introduce recovery and discovery tools and instruments

The School will comprise of the following elements:

1. International Learning and Development Forum

IMHCN has a worldwide network of experts in the development and implementation of innovative community mental health services and practices that provide citizenship and recovery. They include, professionals, managers, service users, family members, educators, researchers, advocates, policy makers in the public, NGO and private sectors. Their expertise and knowledge should be made available to Mental Health providers in developing community mental health services.

We are developing this forum for them to come together on a regular basis to:

  • share experiences, challenges and good practice 
  • debate the most current priorities and challenges about 
  • transforming mental health
  • reflecting on thinking about culture of services and practices 
  • the effect of Covid-19 on mental health
  • how to implement best practice
  • providing new ways of working
  • examples of developing services that address the social 
  • determinants of mental health
  • developing a Whole Person, Whole Life - Whole System Approach

This platform is open to those that are committed to change. 

We are inviting our members to join us in this initiative. 

We will provide guest speakers for specific topics that are of interest to our forum members.

The results of our discussions and recommendations as well of the good practices will be made available on our website, and social media platforms.

2. Training and Education: Online Webinars

We will provide Webinars on Whole Person Whole Life Whole System Recovery Approach and the themes and topics of topical, relevant interest  and importance in transforming mental health services and practices.This will include specific training sessions on topics of interest to our membership and followers;

  • Co-creating a Whole Person Whole Life Whole System culture, vision and leadership
  • Establishing and strengthening comprehensive network of rights-based and person-centred community mental health services in all their specific components and practices, while enhancing community connectedness and supports
  • Working alongside practitioners, service users and family members to introduce and provide different interventions and approaches examples include Trialogues, Hearing Voices Tools, Peer Support, Self Help and Self-Management
  • Assisting service users and carers to promote their experience and provide new approaches to services and practices
  • Assisting in developing ‘place and train’ employment and vocational services for real work with real pay, e.g. Social cooperatives and firms
  • Assisting in improving efficiency, more effective use of financial and human resources
  • Designing and developing approaches to tackle stigma, discrimination, prejudices and myths within communities
  • Introducing and facilitating Action Learning Sets – involving all stakeholders as key-players - on changing thinking, changing practices and changing systems

The current  program and timescale are in the supporting document sent to you separately.

We welcome your suggestions for other topical and innovative Webinars.

All the Webinars will be managed by our partner organisation OnlineEvents Ltd via Zoom.

Example of other training and learning opportunities

  • Conferences and workshops in Whole Life Whole System Approach
  • Recovery into Practice
  • Community Mental Health Development

The IMHCN holds an annual think tank conference and organises symposiums, learning sets and workshops in partnership with member organisations around the world.

Strategic and Practice Development 

The IMHCN provides a range of tailored services and products including training and consultancy designed to assist communities, organisations and individuals to transform the thinking and culture of psychiatric services with a focus on the whole life needs of people.

International Twinning Collaboration Agreements between Mental Health Organisations

These are formal agreements to work together and exchange staff in small groups on specific developments learning from good practice and a recovery based approach.

Training and education Providing technical expertise in participative and interactive outcome based training for professionals, managers, service users, families and policy makers. This includes: Whole Life Recovery practice; Community mental health strategic development; Management of change; Innovation in person centred support; Community Development approaches to mental health planning.

International Schools, Study Visits and Exchange Programmes 

Four Season International schools bring together a small group of people for an intensive residential shared learning experience focused on the work and practice of the host organisation. We also 

organise short study visits and exchange programmes within our members partnerships.

3. Consultancy Services

The IMHCN consultancy service supports and enables individuals and organisations to implement Whole Person Whole Life Whole System and Recovery (link) Approaches.

The service uses a co-production approach involving all stakeholders in the development of services to meet peoples whole life needs.

IMHCN consultants provide a service to all sectors involved in developing and providing services for peoples mental and whole life needs.

Our consultants have practical experience in the following areas:

  • Promoting and advocating for Human Rights
  • Protecting human rights are the foundation of a modern mental health service. Therefore it needs adopting human rights conventions and legislation, services embracing them and initiatives to improve the service user experience in how they are treated and supported in current services and systems; moreover,
  • Identifying human rights violations and bad practices and impact these have on social exclusion. 
  • Policy formulation
    • Assistance and expertise in developing and implementing National, Regional and Local Mental Health Policies and Strategies
    • Assessment of mental health needs for individuals and populations
    • Providing examples of best policies from around the world
  • Community mental health service development
    • Providing systematic reviews of existing mental health services
    • Undertaking service redesign according to the best international example, like Trieste, Lille and others
    • Including programs for the wellbeing and quality of care for users  
    • Promoting deinstitutionalisation and open door policy and practice in all closed units, hospitals and services, from forensic to special need ones
    • Developing leadership programs in the management of change for Directors and Chief Executives of Psychiatric Hospitals
    • Designing a Whole Person, Whole Life Whole Systems approach
    • Providing evidence based practice in community mental health for a comprehensive service
    • Developing Services for Young People, Adults and the Older Person
    • Promoting and developing user run crisis services and sanctuaries
    • Developing Crisis services as alternative to acute care
    • Examining the roles of the current workforce and developing alternative structures and roles

4. Social Media discussion and debating community

IMHCN hosts social media discussion groups on FaceBook, Linked-In and Twitter. We will be developing these communities via live discussion groups on current topics and concerns that of interest to our members. 

5. Contributors and Supporters

The IMHCN needs the support, experiences and expertise of mental health organisations, service users, family members, NGO’s and training bodies. 

We wish our International School to be able to include many good practices and initiatives from different parts of the world.

Therefore we would like to include topics for our webinars that organisations and individuals can propose for inclusion in the Webinar transformation programmes.

The current Webinar program we have developed is attached. 

We welcome other suggestions that can be included in future programs.

We are also inviting organisations to nominate a manager, a professional, a user, a family member to become members of the specific Learning and Development Forums that will work with others as an Action Learning Set.

Organisations and individuals can become contributors and supporters in the development and running of the International School by completing the attached form (see below).


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