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For Recovery and Inclusion
The CARe Network
An Interview with Jean Pierre Wilken,
The CARe Network President

The CARe Network for Recovery and Inclusion is an International network which serves professionals, service users and organizations to promote the transition from institutional to community-based and recovery-based care.

The CARe Network is active in the field of mental health care, social care and welfare services for persons with psychiatric, learning and physical disabilities consisting of members in 20 different countries in Europe and Central Asia, and started to extend its activities in Africa.

The CARe Network changed its name from CARe Europe in March 2018, emphasizing the global perspective and horizontal organization structure of the initiative. 

1. Growth always produces change; but change does not necessarily produce growth. What has been the most amazing growth of The CARe Network?


Growth is not what is the most important. What matters most are people who are committed to advocate for the core values of the CARe Network. People who want to change current practices in mental health care, who want to make practices more recovery and community oriented.

2. What are the challenges facing mental health care? How will The CARe Network contribute to overcome these new challenges?

In many countries, especially in the Eastern part of Europe and Central Asia, many people facing mental health problems become institutionalised. They are faced with social exclusion and a medical system which is narrowing life down to an illness or a behavioural problem. The challenge is to change the current system. Hospitalisation should be avoided as much as possible. Care should be provided close to normal life, so that the mental health issue is distorting daily life as less as necessary. A focus on personal recovery means that the personal experiences and needs of the person are guiding the professional. Medication, psychotherapy and counselling support this personal recovery process. Professional support is focussed on the whole life, including all the areas which are important for a decent quality of life, such as the living conditions, work, income, education and social relationships. The CARe Network offers knowledge and training resources. In the network, we give each other inspiration and we share good examples of new practices.

3. Since the founding of CARe Europe and its change to The CARe Network, what are the most exciting moments over the last 7 years?

I think it is a good step to change the name. This was a desire of our partners In Central Asia. Recently, we are involved in activities in Nigeria, so  we expand to Africa. To add ‘network’ to the name CARe, expresses better what we are: a network of people and organisations sharing the same vision. The CARe Network has step by step developed itself into a movement where a lot of promising activities take place. Of course, the most important activities happen locally, in local organisations. The CARe Network offers a framework which supports these local activities. For me, the international meetings are always a highlight. That’s where we meet each other, inspire each other and learn from each other. I am always impressed by the courage and perseverance of our core members. Over the years they continue developing new initiatives, often in spite of very limited resources and an unfavourable political climate.


4. Digital technology is advancing exponentially. How do you think The CARe Network can leverage on it and alert mental health and social care professionals?

I have the feeling that we are just about to connect to this new area. An initiative as Helpific is very promise full. It shows that using the opportunities web based platforms can offer, it really adds new services to people with a disability. I think the CARe Network can introduce modern forms of E-Health to Eastern European and Central Asian countries. One of the ways we can do this is to spread these resources through our new Russian website.

5. What will be the future perspective of The CARe Network? What is your vision?

My dream is that the CARe Network will become stronger the coming years: connecting more dedicated people, developing more initiatives. The different areas we have identified are all important for accomplishing our mission. These are: developing recovery based care and services, including peer led initiatives, spreading ICT applications and supporting social enterprises.

Jean Pierre

The CARe Network President

Dr Jean Pierre Wiken,


Dr Jean Pierre Wilken

Professor at HU University of Applied Sciences

Hogeschool Utrecht / HU University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht University


Jean Pierre Wilken is a social scientist and health psychologist. His research areas include social inclusion, integrated approaches of social work and health care, disability studies, and methods of practice-based research. Since 2002 he is working in the Research Centre for Social Innovation at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences.


His chair is Participation, Care and Support for persons in vulnerable positions. Jean Pierre Wilken is involved in a number of research programmes around the changes in the welfare state, and how it affects citizens in vulnerable positions as well as the work of social and health professionals. Since 2013, he is also connected to Tallinn University, as a visiting professor of Social Work and Social Innovation.

Fields of expertise: Disability, Evidence for policy / knowledge valorization, Health and wellbeing, Inclusive social development / inclusive societies / social inclusion, Participation, Social policy


Jean-Pierre Wilken's website:

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