Most frequent questions and answers

Mental health is an integral part of our overall health. A healthy person is someone who is competent in doing that which is expected from him/her by society, someone who can socialize with the people around them in a normal manner, and someone who can function regardless of the things that are going on inside and the problems they might have. A healthy person is someone who has found balance within as well as with those that surround him or her.

An institution is any residential care where residents are isolated from the broader community and/or compelled to live together; residents do not have sufficient control over their lives and over decisions which affect them; and the requirements of the organisation itself tend to take precedence over the residents’ individual needs (definition by Ad Hoc Expert Group Report , source: Common European Guidelines on the Transition from Institutional to Community-Based Care, http://deinstitutionalisationguide.eu)-insert link on English version.

Stigmatization of persons who suffer from mental illness is defined as negative labeling, marginalization and avoidance of persons precisely because they have a mental illness. Today, stigma has a negative meaning and represents a sign of shame and a person’s discrediting. Stigmatization has negative effects on the individual suffering from mental illness, on his/her family members, as well as on psychiatry as a profession and on the entire community. Stigmatization weakens its victims, increases the feeling of alienation, thus having a negative effect on the course of the illness.

Is there something special about housing? The simple answer is “yes.” If social inclusion means securing all persons, regardless of their differences or shortages in life, with the feeling of being at home in this world and finding a sense of belonging within the local community, then the most important place where someone can feel at home is at home. The Social Welfare Act defines organized housing as “one or more persons living together, but not more than five people, 24 hours a day, with organized and full-time or part-time help from a professional or any other person who secures them with the basic life-needs, as well as social, work, cultural, recreational and other needs.” Quality, accessible, safe and suitable accommodation is one of the cornerstones of contentment, and persons with mental problems are no different in this sense compared to other people in the community. In reality, the effort put into rehabilitation is doomed to failure if it isn’t possible to secure organized housing. Decreasing mental symptoms alone isn’t enough. The person is a whole. Just like a person in a wheelchair needs a ramp to enter a building, a person with mental difficulties needs changes in the environment that will support their individual functioning. In this way, the person takes on the role of a tenant, a host, a neighbor, a member of the local community, and they work together with the staff to achieve certain goals and tasks aimed at individual success and stability within their home or apartment. Living within a community is the key component to self-determination, independent living, and finally, the recovery of persons with mental health problems. Studies have shown that persons with serious and chronic mental illnesses can participate in and accept the services they need and successfully become stable within the framework of organized housing within the local community with adequate support. They also show a significant decrease in symptoms related to metal disorders and improvement in social functioning. The individual’s perception of the quality of life is also increased. In developed western countries, this form of care for persons with mental problems has existed for many years – 30 years in Italy and 60 years in the USA.

Prejudice is a firmly rooted, negative attitude that is decided upon in advance and determined based on inadequate knowledge of the subject that has been acquired during one’s life, one’s upbringing or negative experiences. Prejudice isn’t merely a characteristic of mental illness. Racial, national and sexual prejudices are also very common. Prejudice is an attitude or belief that puts a specific person in an undesirable position. Prejudice always contains a negative, but also hostile, attitude towards the object at hand. It is very resistant to change because people do not think about the fact that they are being unjust simply because they have unfounded attitudes and actions related to this. The results of prejudice can be seen in our actions, and this is called discrimination.

Persons with mental difficulties can lead a life in which mental illness isn’t the determining factor in their lives. Recovery means more than just “dealing with” the illness and its consequences or “keeping” persons with mental difficulties within the local community. The role of the support staff is also to provide hope, support, education and partnership to the user (the person with mental difficulties in organized housing) as they work their way through their mental illness and deal with related social consequences. Support to people during their recovery process is one of the most important tasks of the team. When talking about recovery, persons with mental difficulties wish to regain: – hope – dignity – motivation – self-confidence – meaning – independence – citizenship Thus, it is important for the members of the team to give the hope that he/she can: – be well and remain well during a long period of time – achieve set goals – lead a happy and fulfilled life Direct support staff work with people and provide them with support so that they can achieve maximum independence in many aspects of life including boarding, handling money and actively participating in treatments. Team members also help users to become more independent and behave in a partner-like manner towards them – they perceive them as subjects and not merely the objects of the therapy process.

A frequent result of stigma is discrimination, which is a strong violation of basic human rights. People with mental illnesses are often unjustifiably perceived as dangerous, incompetent and irresponsible, which leads to their alienation, homelessness and economic downfall. This greatly decreases the possibility for them to have a normal life, to work, to get treatment, for rehabilitation and to return to the social community. Due to discrimination, persons with mental difficulties are often socially isolated and alienated, thus making them feel misunderstood. Luckily, certain indicators have shown that discrimination is on the decrease in specific societies. This is the result of prejudice and stigmatization being replaced by tolerance and understanding. Also, the media often connect mental illness with a tendency towards committing criminal acts, although it is well known that there is no direct connection between the two. Simply put, discrimination is the inadmissible and unjustified discernment of persons based on the characteristics cited in the Anti-Discrimination Act; e.g., racial or ethnic affiliation or skin color, gender, language, religion, illness, etc.

Organized housing means one or more persons living together, but not more than five people, 24 hours a day, with organized and full-time or part-time help from well-trained personnel who secure them with the basic life-needs, as well as social, work, cultural, recreational and other needs.

Suporta provides services of organized housing within the community (meaning outside an institution) with support, as well as support in case management.

For us, the name “Suporta” has many different meanings: it is made up of the prefix “su-“ which means that we need others in order to cohabitate, to collaborate, and the word “porta” (Latin for “door”) which is a symbol of freedom (locked – unlocked), the possibility to choose (entrance – exit), and to move closer or further away (open – close). In English, it comes from the word “support.”

In our work, we use the CARe method (comprehensive approach to rehabilitation). Each individual human being has his possibilities and his disabilities. We all have strengths and weaknesses, capabilities and vulnerabilities. In their recovery process, we help people to rediscover themselves and their place in the world after the traumatic experiences they have been through. We help them to recuperate their strength and regain their citizenship.We believe that society belongs to everyone.

The purpose of Suporta Association is to provide support to persons with mental difficulties within Croatian communities, outside of an institutional surrounding. We believe that every person regardless of their disability, has the right to life within the community.

Organized housing and support within families (patronage).

Suporta’s work is based on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in particular Article 19 – Living independently and being included in the community.

Our support is aimed at individual needs within the local community in order for the person to be able to successfully live an integrated life within the local community. Suporta staff encourage and assist individuals recovering from mental illness to make their decisions and live their life constructively and create opportunities for new experiences. We also help people to join productive activities (employment).

Suporta’s team includes a social pedagogue, a psychologist, a nurse and a work therapist.

The people that Suporta serves live like the majority of the citizens of Zagreb, in furnished apartments. They have their own possessions and more freedom in making decisions about their lives.

Unfortunately, at the moment we do not have availability. We are actively raising additional funds to expand our services, so that more individuals can be served.

There are no limitations in communication. It is up to you and the person in the housing community to decide on how you are going to communicate.

Other forms of collaboration are possible as well. Please contact us so that we can establish exactly what your needs are and whether we can meet them.

Suporta provides personalized services to each individuall with whom we work.

By email: info@suporta.org or writing to us via CONTACT page.

Suporta has been providing services to people with mental health challenges and their families beginning in December 2006.