Our Mission

  • Promoting mental health and prevention
  • Striving for a reform in health care – promoting the National Mental Health Protection Programme
  • Building cooperation between humanities and psychiatry
  • Fighting stigmatisation of people seeking mental health care
  • Sharing of experience in self-help movements, strengthening them – preparation and presentation of contacts

Our Story

In November 2014, during the Community Psychiatry Forum taking place in Koszalin, aware of the continuous lack of reform in the mental health care system, we established the the National Mental Health Protection Programme Initiative.

In 2015, a dispute flared up when the National Mental Health Protection Programme was to dissolve in the legislative process of the Public Health Act:

  • In July 2015 a petition defending the National Mental Health Protection Programme (NPOZP) was created. The petition reached many people willing to sign it, thanks to the Community Psychiatry and Rehabilitation Unit and the National Mental Health Protection Programme Innitiative. The beginning of September 2015 saw the petition submitted in Voivodeship Offices in a few of the largest cities in Poland, in some, accompanied by street protests.
  • In August 2015 an event was posted to Facebook: „NIE CHCĘ aby wbito gwóźdź do trumny POLSKIEJ PSYCHIATRII”. 18 thousand Internet users saw it, and almost 8 thousand declared their support for the cause. The subject was widly discussed on social media where a group formed strong enough to become a lobby for politicians. The petition defending the National Mental Health Protection Programme (NPOZP) was also shared on Facebook.
  • In September 2015, members of the Warsaw Fountain House, representatives of the “Open the doors” Society from Cracow, experts by experience from the eFkropka Foundation, family members from the Polish Institute of Open Dialogue from Wroclaw, along with representatives from the Community Psychiatry and Rehabilitation Scientific Unit of PTP (Polish Psychiatric Society) participated in the session of the Sejm Health Comitee.

WE STOPPED THE REPEAL OF THE National Mental Health Protection Programme!!!

We intend to continue our efforts, hence the idea for this Congress to be a recurring event. Intitiators for this event (in alphabetical order): Marek Balicki, Andrzej Cechnicki i Jacek Wciórka.

National Mental Health Protection Programme Innitiative approached the eFkropka Foundation from Warsaw to organise the First Mental Health Congress.


On March 6, 2017 an Open Letter to the Prime Minister Beata Szydło was sent to accompany the First Mental Health Congress.

The Mental Health Congress is a meeting that takes place every two years in order to strive to build the best possible, effective support for people experiencing a crisis. Accessible, diverse support in line with community treatment principles. To support the person in crisis and their relatives. Helping the person in crisis and their relatives in a recovery-oriented way. After the first congress held in 2017, the reform of the mental health system in Poland began. The aim of the congress is to push for its development and to show what a crisis really is, to fight against the stigmatisation of people experiencing a crisis and their loved ones.

According to research done before the pandemic, one in four people in Poland has experienced, is experiencing or will experience a mental health crisis. Now we are facing its consequences, the proximity of the war in Ukraine, the rise in prices. We are facing many challenges of this kind, which have an impact on mental health.

The Mental Health Congress is a large meeting of people involved in a variety of ways in mental health care – people experiencing a mental health crisis, their relatives, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, psychiatric nurses,peer support, people working in foundations, associations and other organisations for people who are experiencing or have experienced a mental health crisis. It is also attended by social support workers, representatives from science, culture and politics, allies and friends animated by the idea of breaking down prejudices against people in mental health crises.

The mission of the congress is also to strive for health prevention, to develop cooperation between humanities and psychiatry, in the context of mental health, to share the experience of self-help movements, to strengthen them – to prepare and present community contacts.

The congress is accompanied by a march for dignity in solidarity with people experiencing a crisis and their relatives. In it, a manifesto for change is carried through the streets of Warsaw with requests for action by politicians that can make psychiatric treatment more friendly and accessible. Over time, more and more people participate in this march. More and more people, after a crisis, decide to show their faces, which is a huge success for the congress and the march.

This year the congress is being held for the fourth time on 10-11 June in Warsaw.

It is important that change continues. Why? In the patients’ petition for a centre in every district, we read: „Because every citizen, every one of us, deserves dignified, easily accessible, close to home, involving loved ones in therapy, following the dynamics of the crisis with forms of assistance, psychiatric care. This is the kind of care, based on the principles of community psychiatry, that Mental Health Centres offer. Community care can make it possible to avoid an often traumatic stay in hospital or make hospitalisation as short as possible. (…) Community-based treatment allows you to maintain the rhythm of your life. With such support, you can work, study, pursue your passions. With such treatment, there is a huge opportunity to keep us striving for the common good, without being condemned to land on pensions, perpetuated in sickness. Work, study and family have enormous therapeutic power. On top of that, if we work, we do not create the huge cost of using pensions. We pay taxes, we are useful. We don’t feel we are a burden on the state”.

The community treatment approach talks a lot about the therapeutic role of work. So it is good that it is to this that one of the satellite parts of the meeting will be devoted. Work allows one to be fulfilled, to feel needed, to build self-esteem, to focus on tasks, and gives financial independence. Work, the desire to return to it, can be a motivation for treatment. It is a shame to lose their potential. A post-crisis person brings to the company not only his or her skills but also a great sensitivity, which comes in handy in everything that is done. Such a person is aware of how to take care not only of himself but also of his surroundings. The example of the Kraków-based Pensjonat u Pana Cogito, where most of the employees are people with experience of psychosis, proves how valuable the work is. Since they have been employed there, they have not returned to hospital.

The main organiser of the congress is the eFkropka Foundation, which brings together people with experience of crisis. It is assisted by the Association for Psychiatry and Community Care and the Leonardo Foundation.

The congress has no permanent funding and we would appreciate your support. Contributions can be made by sending money to the eFkropka Foundation (Congress sub-account) account: 

Ambassadors for the congress in previous years included Elyn R. Saks, Arnhild Lauveng, Prof. Irvin D. Yalom, Daniel Fisher. We invite you to listen to their testimonies:

Elyn R. Saks – Distinguished Professor of Law, Psychology and Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Southern California – Gould School of Law. Founder and faculty director of the Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy and Ethics. Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Faculty at the New Center for Psychoanalysis. Professor Saks received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her Ph.D. in psychoanalysis from the New Center for Psychoanalysis. She also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Pepperdine University and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from William James College. Saks writes extensively in the fields of law and mental health and has published five books and more than fifty articles. Her memoir, The Centre Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness, describes her struggle with schizophrenia. She has won numerous awards, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship in 2009 (the so-called 'Genius Grant’)

Arnhild Lauveng – PhD and specialist in community psychiatry. Researcher at the Norwegian Competence Centre, vice-president of the Norwegian Psychological Association. Lecturer and recipient of numerous awards. Author of 12 books, two of which – 'I was on the other side of the mirror’ and 'Unnecessary like a rose’. have been translated into Polish, are based on her own experience of schizophrenia diagnosis.

Professor Irvin D. Yalom is an American existential psychiatrist and psychotherapist, professor emeritus at Stanford University. One of the pioneers of group psychotherapy, he also created his own concept of existential psychotherapy, focusing on the inherent components of human destiny: freedom, loneliness, the need for meaning and death.  He is also an accomplished writer, the author of countless scientific publications and hugely popular therapeutic novels such as: „The Executioner of Love” „Psychotherapeutic Tales” „Mom and the Meaning of Life”.

Daniel Fisher – obtained his PhD in cancer research at the University of Wisconsin, then worked at the US National Institutes of Health, conducting research in neurobiochemistry. He was then diagnosed with schizophrenia. He recovered and, in order to humanise the mental health system, he completed his medical degree at George Washington University and became a doctor. He completed his residency in psychiatry at Harvard Medical University. He worked as a certified specialist in community psychiatry for 42 years. In this capacity, he was also medical director for an area covering 130,000 people in both outpatient and inpatient care. He has extensive experience working with people with serious mental health disorders and dual diagnoses. He has been co-founder and CEO of the National Empowerment Center for the past 29 years. For the past 15 years, he co-founded and served as President of the National Mental Health Coalition. He was awarded the title of Professor at the University of Massachusetts. He is one of the promoters and trainers of the Emotional CPR educational programme – „Emotional CPR”. He is developing this programme in Poland.

The principles of community-based treatment are described in the EUCOMS consensus: https://eucoms.net/consensus-paper/.

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