Main Menu

My Health, My Right

Progetto Itaca

My Health, My Right

My Health, My Right

Towards World Health Day on April 7 with Factor J and Project Itaca

"My health, My Right" is the focus selected by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for this year’s World Health Day on April 7. Health is a fundamental human right that is often denied due to social exclusion, especially in the case of mental illnesses. This has been recently highlighted in an initiative organised by the Fondazione Progetto Itaca that wrote a letter to Minister Alessandra Locatelli and Chief of Staff Maurizio Borgo demanding that psychiatric disability be considered on par with all others.

As recently declared to the media by Felicia GiagnottiPresident of the Fondazione Progetto Itaca, who in February was awarded the Honour of Merit of the Italian Republic, “at the legislative level, psychiatric illness is recognized as a disability but it is not represented in the Disability Observatory at the dedicated Ministry. The employment of a person with psychiatric distress is not comparable to other types of employment. It has its own specificities. It is a biopsychosocial disease with biological, psychological, and social components. A person with a mental problem must be introduced to work in an adequate manner.”

And on this front, the Itaca Project, which has been supported for over ten years thanks to the commitment of motivated and trained volunteers, has undertaken action to raise awareness of mental illness by spreading correct information and helping those suffering from disorders and their families to move towards full inclusion in society.

For several years, we have been collaborating with Fondazione Progetto Itaca as part of Factor J, together with Johnson & Johnson Innovative Medicine Italia. For the fourth edition, the alliance has been strengthened and Progetto Itaca has become a sponsoring body, opening up its activities for PCTO courses. On March 5-8, 10 students from the Rome IIS Piaget Diaz and IIS Sulpicio-Veroli schools will work with volunteers from Club Itaca in Rome in the Nomentano neighbourhood on activities with psychiatric patients. The next appointment is April 8-10 in Latina with 10 students from IIS San Benedetto in Latina.

Among the initiatives organised by the Progetto Itaca Foundation, Club Itaca is a non-healthcare day facility organised as a club, in which member-users (young people and adults aged 20-45 and suffering from serious psychiatric pathologies) work together with volunteers. The activities aim to allow an ordinary rhythm of life and self-confidence. Moreover, social and specific skills are supported to increase individual autonomy. When, and if, young members are ready, they are helped to face the outside world with a real job. The service follows the "Clubhouse International" Model: activities include social communication workshops, restaurant bars, urban horticulture, and gardening.

The Club headquarters, in a quiet green area of the Nomentano neighbourhood, is a hotbed of activity and stimulation, with spaces for meeting and relaxing. As Gaia Buono and Cristina Raho from Progetto Itaca Roma tell us: “Today, our members are young people aged 20-30, an average age that is decreasing compared to a few years ago. We do not select between who can join and who cannot, the severity of the diagnosis does not matter, but the only requirement to be accepted is that the person is under treatment by a psychiatrist. The students help the members carry out ordinary activities, as well as participate in workshops on costume jewellery, restoration, music, and English."

What is a typical day at Club Itaca like? 

“From Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm, we welcome members. We all meet here in the morning to talk. This is followed by an organizational meeting in which we help members to choose the activities, which are ideally divided into different areas: clerical work (accounting, social media, and website management), maintenance, catering, and vegetable gardening. Thanks to this commitment, people work on their independence and reactivate themselves with a very specific routine. The working method is 'side by side', that is, alongside volunteers."

What is the meaning of the daily commitment to these activities? Is there a concrete possibility of job placement?

First of all, the daily appointment and the commitment to practical activities provides a great deal of work on self-esteem and self-knowledge. We give people time to bring out individual talent with real job training. When they feel ready, they can be included in the "JOB Station" Project, which today includes 33 companies in 7 cities. In addition to supporting people with mental health problems to re-enter the working world, JOB Station also helps companies to be more inclusive and comply with legal obligations, together with partners such as Accenture.

However, Club Itaca also promotes self-help, with groups in which those suffering from depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, together with their families, can meet, under the guidance of facilitators and professional supervision, to discuss and share the experience of mental distress both personally and indirectly, in the case of family members.

The interview was conducted by Onelia Onorati.

Other news that might interest you

Our Projects

Get updated on our latest activities, news and events