The project addresses the problem of social exclusion of mentally ill people, in particular the chronically ill, in Bytom. Mental illness is strongly socially stigmatized, which, combined with the lack of adequate institutional support, deepens the isolation of patients, their families, and carers. The support system for mentally ill people is not effective, and the offered tools are often inadequate to complex problems. There is a lack of coherent, complementary and coordinated actions in the field of medical support, supervision over therapeutic rigor, and social support that would lead to the empowerment of chronically mentally ill people.
As part of the “We add wings” project, social skills training was conducted, including a 3-day integration workshop and psychoeducational training for 50 chronically mentally ill people living in the Nursing Home and Sheltered Housing. Then, the project participants implemented four different initiatives for the local community of Bytom (building houses for insects, sowing wildflower meadows, local nature clean up and Christmas decorations workshop), as well as an Neighbour’s Day integration event. The project was concluded with an exhibition of photos and an e-book documenting the project activities.
As a result, 50 mentally ill people who took part in the project developed their social competences, skills of functioning and cooperation in a group. Thanks to their self-advocacy competences they gained and their involvement in social activities, the project also helped to expose stereotypes about the mentally ill and contributed to the destigmatization of mental illness among the Bytom community.