Each year, mental health practitioners from around the world visit Trieste in Italy to see what they can learn from the city’s approach to mental illness.
In 1978, Trieste led a ‘revolution’ in Italian mental health care by closing its asylums and ending the restraint of patients. Today the city is designated as a ‘collaboration centre’ by the World Health Organization in recognition of its pioneering work.
Reporter Ammar Ebrahim visits Trieste to see how the system works - from the informal community centres where people can drop in and stay as long as they need, to the businesses that offer career opportunities for those who have been through the system.
We hear about the city’s policy of ‘no locked doors’, and ask how Trieste deals with patients other societies may deem ‘dangerous’.
Presenter: Tom Colls
Producer: Sam Judah
(Photo Caption: “Freedom is therapeutic” written on a wall in Trieste / Photo Credit: BBC)
The school that puts wellbeing first
On average, one in eight children in the UK has a mental health disorder – that’s about three children in every classroom. Yet there are just 4.5 psychiatrists for every 100,000 young people - that’s fewer than most other European countries. With the UK’s mental health provision for children so stretched, help often ends up coming from families and schools.
One school in London has actively taken up this challenge. Highgate Primary School has developed a unique system in which dozens of children can get one-to-one sessions with trainee therapists, while some struggling parents are also offered support. The school has redesigned its playground so children can find areas that fit their mood, and it has given over more time to activities such as gardening, cooking and drama.
Today’s programme features some of the children that have benefited from these ideas – but can other schools replicate them?
Reporter: William Kremer
(Photo Credit: BBC)
Residents turn detective to fight crime
Neighbours in the US are using cameras that read car number plates to record vehicles driving down their streets.
When there’s a crime they check through the footage and pass any leads on to the police. But critics say the Flock Safety system, run by a private company, is open to abuse and warn of privacy concerns.
Is it too risky to encourage residents to do police work, or a realistic response to under-resourced law enforcement?
Presenter: Tom Colls
Producer: Claire Bates
(Photo Credit: BBC)
Life-saving surgery, but not by a doctor
More than five billion people around the world don’t have access to safe, affordable surgical care. It has been a big problem in Ethiopia where most specialist doctors are concentrated in the cities, contributing to high rates of maternal mortality.
In 2009 the Ethiopian government began training Integrated Emergency Surgical Officers. Health workers, such as nurses and midwives, are taught to perform emergency operations in remote, rural clinics where there are no surgeons. It was the first programme of its kind and is seen as a model for other developing countries.
More than 800 surgical officers have now completed the three-year Masters programme and are performing hundreds of caesareans and other emergency procedures each year.
People Fixing The World follows one of them, Seida Guadu, as she operates to try to save the lives of a mother and her unborn child.
Reporter: Ruth Evans
Producers: Lily Freeston and Hadra Ahmed
(Picture credit: BBC)
Portugal, drugs and decriminalisation
In the 1990s Portugal had a major heroin problem, and when it came to people injecting drugs it had one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the EU. It took a radical approach and decriminalised all personal drug use.
The law introduced in 2001 means people carrying drugs for personal consumption aren’t prosecuted - instead they are referred to health and social services to receive treatment, and the focus is on harm reduction.
And the strategy worked. The number of people using drugs fell dramatically, new HIV and Hepatitis C infections dropped and drug-related crime became much less of a problem.
So why haven’t more countries followed their lead and adopted this model?
Produced by Hannah McNeish for BBC World Service
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)