For Centuries, A Small Town Has Embraced Strangers With Mental Illness

Institutionalizing the mentally ill can exacerbate their symptoms, while dehumanizing them and taking away opportunities for agency. For centuries, the town of Geel in Belgium has a government-funded program that places “boarders” in residential homes where they receive care like a family member. The solution to the problem is to not treat the mentally ill as a social problem, but rather as a social norm.

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