Panhellenic Association for Psycho-social Rehabilitation and Work Integration (PEPSAEE) is a Scientific Non-Governmental Organization that was established more than 20 years ago (on 1996). It aims at facilitating the social inclusion and work integration of people with psychosocial problems.
PEPSAEE takes part in the national programme for psychiatric reform in Greece and specializes in supporting, coordinating and empowering rehabilitation and work integration initiatives for people with mental health problems. It has more than 50 employees and numerous volunteers and operates three rehabilitation structures:
- Specialized Day Centre Social Dialogue Centre. Itincludes an Employment Office for people with mental health problems, and an Alternative Activities Office that carries out alternative activities for the social inclusion (e.g. theatrical group, art group, cooking group, photography group etc). The center helps more than 400 mental health services users every week. The building where this Day Center is located used to be a theater. This is an important asset for the implementation of the Day Center’s theatrical rehearsals and the rest of the groups. Several artists work in the Office either as volunteers or as staff- (i.e. actors, dancers, musicians etc.) while at the same time the person in responsibility for the office’s general function is an artist herself. During the last 5 years, PEPSAEE has presented 9 theatrical productions. At the same period it has hosted several art exhibitions with the result products of the groups.
- The Day Centre …at the centre of townis an open structure of psychosocial rehabilitation which offers services to more than 150 adults with severe mental health problems and their families. Psychologists, health visitors, social workers, psychiatrists and occupational therapists use classic and alternative methods of therapy and support through a specialised day programme and an evening club.
- The Residential House Athina is a high protection unit which operates on a 24 hour basis and offers housing, therapy and support to 15 people with severe mental health disorders and mental disabilities. Psychologists, health visitors, social workers, psychiatrists and occupational therapists use various methods in order to promote residents’ social re-integration.
PEPSAEE’s philosophy: In all of PEPSAEE’s structure, we implement activities relevant to art, as we consider it to be closely linked to mental health. We value art and culture as means for the improvement of mental health and we focus on the following principles (based on Recovery methodology):
- I stay active
- I participate
- I learn/ develop/ acquire skills
- I create/ express myself
- I have fun/ relax
- I become independent/ work
At the same time we strongly believe that work is an essential factor for real social inclusion. This is why we have established the first employment office in Greece for people with mental health problems.
PEPSAEE has always been a pioneer in providing services to people with mental health problems and it focuses on youth:
- It is the first organization that implemented the festival “psy” in Greece. These festivals were open celebration with various happenings where mental health professionals, mental health services users, and members of the community could come together and have fun de-stigmatizing mental health illness. Now several festivals take place organized by various organizations.
- It has facilitated the development of a self-representation association for mental health users, and it is now hosting its activities and financing the publishing of its journal.
- It has created the first employment office for mental health services users, and it developed a specialized methodology for supported employment in the Greek context. It co-operated with 15 other associations in order to transfer the know-how and help the establishment of other employment offices.
- It has hosted 2 European conferences of Social Firms Europe CEFEC (socialfrimseurope.org), a EUROPSY festival, and dozens of conferences and other events.
- In all of PEPSAEE’s structures more than 700 mental health services users have the opportunity to receive high quality services with almost half of them being youth.
- In the time of Greece’s economic crisis, PEPSAEE established the first and only Center for the Psychosocial Support of unemployed people and provided services to more than 1200 long-term unemployed people.
PEPSAEE has implemented numerous projects. Some of them that are focusing mainly on social entrepreneurship are the following:
- Support of Social Capital for the employment of unemployed people from socially vulnerable groups via Social Entrepreneurship (2012 -2015);
- Preparatory actions and dissemination activities for the establishment of a Secondary Representation of Limited Responsibility Social Firms (2010 – 2011).
Participants at tKtC:
Dr. Nikos Drosos, psychologist, teaches in the MSc programmes “Counselling and Career Guidance” of the University of Athens and of the Cyprus European University. He has been working for several years in the field of counseling and career guidance: he has undertaken the supervision, development, and implementation and assessment of many counseling projects. His main focus is in career counselling of socially vulnerable groups. He is the treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Panhellenic Association for Psycho-social Rehabilitation & Work Integration (PEPSAEE).
Niki Louladaki is an artist (Dance, Music, Theatre). She holds degrees in Dance education (Ballet,Contemporary, Bollywood etc.), Music (piano and composing music), Choreography (Site Specific Dance & Performance works at CalArts ) and have been trained as a physical theatre performer & director under the guidance of Grotowski’s method teachers. She works as a supervisor (responsible) of “Alternative Rehabilitation Activities” office in Pepsaee’s Specialized Day Centre “Social Dialogue Centre” and coordinates a number of dance groups addressed to people with mental health issues. She is also a dance teacher in youth & adults groups and choreographer/director /performer in physical theatre productions.
Kyriaki-Maria Papalitsa holds a degree in pre-school education for children with special needs and a nursery degree. She works with youth groups in all levels of education. The past 20 years she is involved in research and preservation of the Greek tradition. She is also a dancer in the traditional greek dances group “ Perperouna” and had been performing in Greece and abroad spreading the wealth of traditional dance . She teaches traditional greek dances in youth groups and is a volunteer in Pepsaee as a coordinator of dance group consisted by people with mental health issues.
Sofia Papaspyropoulou is a psychologist and program coordinator at the Specialized Day Center – “Social Dialogue Center” of P.E.P.S.A.E.E. She comes from a small town on the southwest of Greece and in 2010 she moved to Athens where she studied Psychology in Panteion University. After the degree she attended a 12-month psychopathology seminar which gave her the necessary knowledge about how to diagnose and treat major mental health disorders, mostly beginning in the early twenties. On 2017 she got her Master’s degree on Positive Psychology and since 2015 she has been applying everything she learnt at the Specialized Day Center – “Social Dialogue Center” of P.E.P.S.A.E.E. Furthermore, as a child she was a rhythmic gymnastics athlete and a volleyball player and for the last four years she has been attending dance classes (ballet, contemporary and jazz) and participated in multiple performances ever since. In her job she has many times been given the opportunity to work with various artists and combine science with art. She has come to realize that dance creates ways of communicating the unspoken and for that reason she believes it to be an integral part of a psychologist’s work. She deeply believes in the effectiveness of early intervention, thus she is always happy to work with young people and walk with them the rough path of mental illness making good use of all kinds of tools and she tries to impart this approach also to her interns.
the Key to Connection is implemeneted in the framework of Erasmus+: Youth in Action programme – key action 2, Strategic Partnership for exchange experiences.