The development in the health field of the consumer movement, that is of the citizen users as a collective and organized subject acting as a social actor (Crozier & Friedberg, 1977), must be framed in social dynamics that are located at the level of macromutations and which as such an indisputable force, even considering the situation of profound ambiguity and disparity of power in which the consumer of the healthcare offer finds himself. Furthermore, in the field of mental health , the objectives of consumer groups are different based on the pathology they share.
Those who suffer from depression , eating disorders , anxiety syndromes frequently consider their disorder as a disease, like the physical ones, without questioning the interpretative models of the disorders they suffer from and do not put issues relating to collective rights on the agenda. Many of these groups are active in raising funds, organizing and promoting services , sometimes expressing criticism and dissent about the quality of treatment or the allocation of resources, without however challenging the foundations of psychiatry.
On the other hand, do not always accept the status of “disease” of their condition or redefine its contents, they often question the psychiatric model and have rights as their main interest. stigma, self-determination, the definition of “mental illness”, thus differentiating itself from a large part of consumers in the health sector.
Change in Mental Health Services
There are historical periods in which radical reversals take place capable of changing paradigms and perspectives: this is what has occurred in the last fifty years, with the end of the era of asylums and the birth of community psychiatry and this is what is happening today with the development of the movement of users with severe psychic disorders.
The phenomenon began about fifty years ago with the entry into the field of family associations. First in France in 1964 with the Union Nationale des amis et des familles des malades mintux, then in England in 1971 with the National Schizophrenia Fellowship and in 1978 in the United States with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill. These are organizations that have reached significant levels of power, including from an economic point of view and that have contributed to raising awareness and bringing out new points of view on mental disorders, increasing awareness and tolerance in communities, influencing the politics and strategies of Mental Health Services and becoming an unprecedented political pressure force (Agnetti, 2006).