Background: Since the Mental Health Reform Law 1978/180, in Italy mental hospitals have been progressively closed and a community-centred psychiatric care oriented to rehabilitation began. After almost 35 years, the de-institutionalization process is now complete. However, psychosocial interventions in the community are provided only rarely, although a specific mental health professional, the psychiatric rehabilitation technician, has been established in Italy.
Material: Training courses and the education of psychosocial rehabilitation technicians have been analysed and the university degree has been described. Moreover, the practical and theoretical skills needed at the end of the training course have been discussed.
Discussion: Psychiatric rehabilitation technicians are trained to perform multidisciplinary rehabilitative and educational interventions for people with severe mental disorders and their carers. They represent an innovative professional workforce in mental health care, not yet established outside Italy, whose role and activities are essential in a community-based mental health system model.
Conclusion: The skills needed for properly performing psychosocial interventions are not available in other mental health professionals and it is not possible that these interventions, which require in-depth training, are performed by professionals with a different background. It is advisable that psychiatric rehabilitation technicians become an integral and permanent component of an efficient community psychiatric staff.