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Project of the World Psychiatric Association, carried out in Poland by the Main Board of the Polish Psychiatric Association under the patronage of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour and Social Assistance

For many years a number of teams in Poland have been conducting research and training as well as organising symposia on schizophrenia. The project, in its first phase, is intended to integrate all these circles and to create an "intellectual community" so that their common message should receive a stronger response of the public opinion and should lead to an actual breakthrough in the attitudes towards and prejudices against mentally ill people.


To ensure that the project will develop for many years, that it will be co-ordinated nationwide and co-operate with the World Psychiatric Association, it is to be carried out according to the schedule required by the World Psychiatric Association.

Co-ordinator and Initial Planning Group

In January 2000 the Board of the Polish Psychiatric Association appointed the project co-ordinator, who instituted the Initial Planning Group to schedule and co-ordinate the development of the project. The Group established the Association for the Development of Community Psychiatry and Care, whose statutory goal is, among others, to develop the "Open the Doors" project.

Regional co-ordinators

In the first phase of the project, invitations to participate were sent to the individuals, associations and institutions involved in the problems of schizophrenia and based in four regions with centres in Katowice, Kraków, Warszawa and Białystok. The next step was to include more regions in the project, with co-ordinators appointed according to the following list:

Task co-ordinators

Anna Bielańska:                                        co-operation with the mass media;
Jacek Wciórka:                                         research on the attitudes towards the mentally ill;
Maria Pałuba:                                             "Together in Art And Life": project in the regions;
Józefa Grodecka:                                      co-operation with social assistance centres in the regions, project entitled :
                                                                     "To live, work and receive treatment in the local  community";
Hubert Kaszyński:                                    regional and local employment projects for the mentally ill;
Agnieszka Lewonowska:                           co-operation with non-governmental organisations;
Zofia Puchelak/Andrzej Warot:                 co-operation with the Families' Associations;
Małgorzata Kawula:                                     co-operation with the Patients' Association "Open the Doors"
Bogdan de Barbaro:                                     co-ordination of training courses for general practitioners;
Jarosław Naliwajko SJ:                             co-operation with the Church, training courses for clerics;
Irena Namysłowska/Ewa Domagalska:     co-operation with schools, training courses for teachers;
Joanna Meder:                                          co-operation with chairpersons of the sections of the Polish Psychiatric Association
                                                                       so  as to introduce "psychotherapeutic standards in schizophrenia treatment";
Andrzej Cechnicki/ Maria Rostworowska: co-ordination of the project "Early Treatmentand Prevention of Relapses in Schizophrenia".

Local Action Group in Poland

The responsibility to carry out the project lies with the Polish Local Action Group, which consists of regional co-ordinators, task co-ordinators, and chairpersons of these sections of the Polish Psychiatric Association that participate in the project.

Aim of the project

The aim of the project is to oppose the stigmatisation and discrimination of schizophrenics, and the four areas of activity are as follows:
1. co-operation with the mass media;
2. educational programme;
3. practical measures;
4. research on the attitudes towards the mentally ill.

Co-operation with the mass media

Co-operation with the mass media will take place both at the national and local level on the basis of the hitherto experiences of the institutions and individuals that were invited to participate in the project through the Polish Local Action Group. We shall try to define the kind of language which we, professionals, should use while communicating with the laymen and talking about the illness, its causes, course and treatment (the ten commonly accepted theses about schizophrenia). This means regular radio and TV programmes as well as publications in the local and national press.
 The articles in the local press and the radio programmes should be presented from the perspectives of the patient, the family and the professional. A weighty task here is the co-operation with the patients who will be ready to speak in their own voice and to show their faces before the camera.
 It is planned that a short TV film will be shot under the title Schizophrenia - Open the Doors and that relevant information posters will be put up nationwide. The motto for the year 2001 is "Schizophrenia is not an incurable illness".
 An important task is the preparation and publication of the information booklet about schizophrenia. It should be easily available all over Poland and contain basic information about the illness so as to help overcome the existent stereotypes and myths. The presentation of the most relevant information in the Internet is planned as well.


The educational programme should be based on the hitherto experiences in schizophrenia education possessed by many teams. This should be enhanced by means of the following:
1. The educational programme should embrace not only those people who are normally trained, that is psychiatric treatment professionals and social workers,  but also:

2. Not only professionals should be trainers, but also patients and their relatives, who should be treated as "educators about the illness". The Patients' Associations should be formed, which would focus on this activity.
3. Co-operation with the Church should be expanded so that especially clerics should receive modern views on mental illnesses during their training.
4. It is planned that information booklets or their re-issues should be prepared and made available to the patients and their families.
5. Nationwide activities must be timed in accordance with regularly held symposia on schizophrenia and social problems, organised by different psychiatric institutions. They will constitute a training forum and provide an opportunity to contact with the mass media during press conferences. Also regional and task co-ordinators can meet then, as they are usually symposium lecturers, and monitor the progress of the project on a regular basis.

Practical measures

Practical measures should also be taken both at the local and national level. So as to increase the availability and attractiveness of the transmitted message, a nationwide schedule of exhibitions and other artistic events embraced by the title "Together in Life and Art" will be prepared. Such events should accompany symposia on psychiatry, but it is of primary importance that they are to be held outside psychiatric institutions, e.g. in galleries and other institutions of culture.
A local level measure could be the "opening of the doors" to psychiatric institutions: outpatient wards, rehabilitation centres, etc. This will create a situation when everybody can come, for instance, to an outpatient ward and talk to psychologists, doctors, social workers, members of the Patients' or Families' Associations. It can be accompanied by a fair of objects made by the patients, an art exhibition or a concert. At the same time it will be necessary to gain for the event a sufficient publicity in the media under the motto "Everything about schizophrenia" or suchlike.

Evaluation of the educational programme

The educational programme will be preceded by a survey of social attitudes as well as a simultaneous research project conducted by the Patients' and Families' Associations, in co-operation with professionals, aimed at the description of the subjective experience of "stigmatisation and discrimination" in the community.

Strategic goals

Eventually the practical measures should result in the introduction of two basic standards in the treatment of schizophrenia in Poland:
a) common psychoeducational groups for the families;
b) common psychotherapeutic and outpatient groups for the patients.

This project will be implemented in collaboration with the chairpersons of the three sections of the Polish Psychiatric Association:

Another field where practical activities will be concentrated are seminars and courses for individuals and institutions preparing employment programmes for mentally ill people as well regional projects to establish social firms for schizophrenic patients (co-ordinators: Hubert Kaszyński and Agnieszka Lewonowska).

Individuals, associations and institutions invited to participate in the project "Schizophrenia - Open the Doors":

1. professionals;
2. psychiatric institutions, foundations and associations;
3. patients and their families (through the Families' Associations);
4. mass media representatives;
5. other individuals ready to participate in the project (artists, lawyers, etc.).


Phases I and II   Initial steps (WPA terminology)

March 2000      nomination of the project co-ordinator ; establishment of the Initial Planning Group
April    2000      invitation for individuals, associations and institutions to participate in the Local Action Group
May    2000      preparation of the project draft
June    2000      visit of Prof. Norman Sartorius in Poland and meeting with the Initial Planning Group:

27-28 October 2000 schizophrenia, pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy and rehabilitation, "Return to society", Warsaw IPN

Phase III   Creation of the project

15-16 September 2000 Community Psychiatry Conference in Tworki

23-25 November 2000 Symposium on "Schizophrenia: different contexts, different therapies" in Kraków

Phases IV and V  Preparation and execution of the programme

14-17 June 2001  Polish Psychiatric Congress in Kraków

October 2001 Symposium on "The quality of life in schizophrenia" in Warszawa

November 2002  Symposium on "Schizophrenia: different contexts, different therapies" in Kraków

The world sponsor of the "Open the Doors" project is the company. 


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