Luiz Ferri de barros

Ashoka Fellow
São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Fellow Since 1998


This profile was prepared when Luiz Ferri de barros was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1998.
The New Idea
Luiz de Barros is developing a network of autonomous, decentralized self-help groups for psychiatric patients and their families throughout Brazil. These groups will provide basic support, peer counseling, and a safety net for the mentally ill. The groups will also reestablish bonds between psychiatric patients and their families and friends, and provide counseling and support for families trying to reintegrate their mentally disabled members back into their homes and lives.The self-help groups will be linked to a São Paulo-based service center that will address administrative and technical needs as well as take on the public role of defending mentally disabled people's human rights. The center will also serve as a clearinghouse of resources and up-to-date information regarding mental health treatment.
While Luiz encourages group members to continue their psychiatric treatment, he challenges health professionals to change their tendency towards considering their patients as passive recipients of care. Instead, Luiz promotes a dynamic where mental health professionals provide information to their patients and encourage them to actively participate in all decisions regarding their own care.
Luiz's approach impacts not only mentally disabled individuals and the way they conduct their lives, but also the way the medical establishment understands their role, and the way Brazilian society comes to grips with the mentally disabled population, which has been largely invisible up until now.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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