The following are key excerpts in our history since 1980:
We were founded in 1980 as a temporary coalition of national groups struggling against the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR, with the main objective of having the Soviet member organization expelled from the World Psychiatric Association. Though this was achieved, the abuse of psychiatry to silence Soviet dissidents continued, prompting the creation of a permanent association. Until 1990, the organization was called the International Association on Political Use of Psychiatry (IAPUP).
The late 1980s saw an important shift in the emphasis of our work as the fall of Communism revealed the importance as well as opportunities to promote and support a broader range of mental health reform initiatives. In response in 1990 we adopted a new name, Geneva Initiative on Psychiatry, a name drawn from the founding location of the first association.
During the 1990s, GIP carried out hundreds of projects throughout the region. These ranged from the publication of modern literature on psychiatry to setting up integrated mental health services; from supporting the development of local NGOs to improving mental health services in prisons; from training in child psychiatry to media campaigns.
In 2001 we began establishing regional centers in Vilnius (Lithuania), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Tbilisi (Georgia) and an office in Tajikistan staffed by people from these regions so as to deepen our work and capacity building in the region. Our aim was to further strengthen regional voices in the field by gradually transferring significant aspects of the work previously led by the office in The Netherlands. In 2005, the three regional centers became independent legal entities with their own regional boards and, in the past few years, have taken on ever-stronger programmatic and fundraising roles. The International Office in The Netherlands has nevertheless continued to be an important instrument for support to the regional centers, for coordination and the identification of useful linkages and synergies between countries and regions, and as a resource for information and broker of expertise across the complex array of mental health issues in the region. One can also not underestimate the benefit, in some instances, of involvement by a more external party in some of the sensitive discussions concerning approaches to mental health care. The International Office also plays a leading role in GIP's expanding involvement in mental health issues in other parts of the world.
In 2005, the year we celebrated our 25th anniversary, we changed our name to Global Initiative on Psychiatry in order to reflect the broader and more comprehensive character of our work and our interests beyond the CCEE/NIS region. Since then GIPs involvement in other parts of the world and in new themes has been growing.