Fellow Since 2001
Psychiatric Interest Defense Forum
This profile was prepared when Gábor Gombos was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Gabor challenges and empowers patients to play an active role in transforming social and health care for themselves and other psychiatric patients. He founded the Psychiatric Interest Forum, a three hundred-member organization designed to incubate and network consumer organizations, patient councils, and patient support groups. The Forum is building consumer (people receiving psychiatric care) organizations throughout Hungary, which mobilize patients to become active social change agents. These consumer-run groups conduct site visits at different social care facilities, document human rights violations, and publicly share their findings. Patient councils, governance bodies for social care facilities, are growing as well. There councils give patients a voice in the design, planning, and implementation of social care facilities and programs. In addition to giving a voice to people receiving psychiatric care, Gabor works to improve the lives of mentally disabled people either living in psychiatric institutions or at home. Gabor has designed the support groups to help and encourage people to live more active lives, to know and understand their civil rights, and to become involved in their communities. The support groups focus on specific problems and issues such as unemployment and preparing for family life.