Abstract: In a time when the deinstitutionalisation of mental health services has become a global and European platform and one of the main forms of care provision, a theme such as the transition of care from large institutions down to a more personal community level care might seem outlived, but the fact is that in some European countries the discussion has revolved for almost 35 years around the most basic question concerning the closure of large, asylum‐type mental health institutions. In this article, I provide a historical overview and analysis of deinstitutionalisation processes in the field of mental health in Slovenia from mid‐1980s onwards, interpreted in terms of achievements and gaps in community‐based care and in user participation in these processes. It demonstrates some of the innovative participatory practices and their potential to transform services. A thematic data analysis was used to analyse the data collected from various primary (a focus group) and secondary sources (autobiographies, newspaper articles, round table reports, blogs) that all bear witness to the different periods of deinstitutionalisation and the user perspective in it.
Keywords: community mental health; history of deinstitutionalisation; tokenism; social movements; user participation