A new mental health center inspired by radical methods used in an Italian city has opened in York – and one health chief has described it as an “amazing opportunity”.

The Mental Health Recovery Center in Clarence Street is undergoing a trial which, if successful, could change the way mental health services are delivered across the city.

The centre, developed jointly by people with work experience, their families and professionals, takes its inspiration from a pioneering model used in Trieste in north-east Italy.

The urban model of mental health care, which is based on the idea that psychiatry in large institutions unfairly displaces people with mental health problems, has undergone a radical shift to care in the community.

There, community centers are open 24/7, there are no locked doors or restraints, and staff do not wear uniforms.

In York, the three-month trial will see the creation of a new multi-agency team based at the centre, which City of York Council says can “offer and provide intervention and support as needed”.

York Press: 30 Clarence Street in York30 Clarence Street in York

“They will include social doctors, peer support specialists and social workers, as well as clinicians from mental health services, to offer flexible, responsive and accessible support,” the council added.

This will only be available to participants in the pilot scheme, and feedback from participants will help shape its future.

Dr Roberto Mezzina, former director of Trieste’s mental health department, said: “This could contribute to a deeper transformation of the system, which is the overall goal of mental health services in York.”

Other services on Clarence Street will operate as normal.

Cllr Carol Runciman, executive member for adults’ health and social care, said: “Delivering on York Mental Health Partnership’s ambition to open this prototype is an exciting step.

“This is in line with the city’s progressive approach to treating and supporting people with mental illness since the 1770s, and I’m delighted to see this important tradition continue.”

Organizations involved in the project include York Mind, York CVS (Centre for Voluntary Services), York Carers Centre, Primary Care and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV).

TEWV’s David Kerr said: “We want to ensure York residents are offered the help and support they need, and feedback from participants in the pilot will ensure we can offer the right services at the right time.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for York and the people of York to be involved in shaping the future of mental health services. TEWV is very excited to be a part of it.”