Irrsinnig Menschlich

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Irrsinnig Menschlich
FoundedApril 3, 2000; 22 years ago (2000-04-03)
FoundersMatthias Claus Angermeyer, Manuela Richter-Werling
TypeNon-governmental organisation
PurposeMental health, social inclusion, prevention, health promotion
HeadquartersLeipzig, Germany
Membership (2018)
Executive Board
Georg Schomerus, Regine Schneider, Cornelia Lakowitz
Managing Directors
Manuela Richter-Werling, Thomas Baumeister
Employees (2020)

Irrsinnig Menschlich (Madly Human) is an international non-profit organisation focused on mental health. It is a German registered independent organisation providing youth welfare services. The association is based in Leipzig. Through several standardised programmes, psychological crises in school and tertiary education settings are turned into something that can be openly discussed. Participants receive information on coping strategies and support services.


The term ‘Irrsinnig Menschlich’ (Madly Human) is a reference to German psychiatrist Klaus Dörner’s textbook Irren ist menschlich[1] (to err is human) published in 1978.[2] For the association, ‘Irrsinn’ (madness) is integral to the state of being human, and so, in their work, they focus on dealing with mental illness in a ‘human(e)’ way. For the organisation, the notion of humanity also involves a readiness to help.


Irrsinnig Menschlich was founded on 3 April 2000 by Matthias Claus Angermeyer, then head of the Department of Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics at Leipzig University, and the journalist Manuela Richter-Werling.[3] The association seeks to better understand psychological crises and mental illnesses, to reduce stigma, anxieties and prejudices relating to psychological crises, to develop awareness and understanding of mental health issues as well as to promote well-being among those affected.[4]

Mental health issues often start during childhood and adolescence yet often years pass until those affected look for help and find it. The biggest barrier is the fear of being stigmatised because of mental health problems.[5][6] Despite continuous improvement in treatment options, stigma is one of the biggest obstacles worldwide to ensuring that people seek help early.[7]

The core competence of Irrsinnig Menschlich lies in developing low-threshold universal prevention programmes and in implementing and scaling them on a supra-regional level with the support of numerous partners providing psychosocial care services. The association has about 70 cooperative partnerships in Germany alone.[8][9]


The organisation was founded after the publication of the second of two social surveys on attitudes towards mental illnesses and people who experience them conducted by Matthias Claus Angermeyer in Germany in 1990 and 2000.[10][11] At the time, psychiatrists as well as initiatives by people with mental health issues and their relatives were leading a global debate on how to fight stigmatisation, prejudices and discrimination against people with mental health problems. It was against this background that the World Psychiatric Association (WPA), in 1996 started the global programme Open the Doors aimed at fighting stigmatisation and discrimination against people with mental health issues.[11][12] Under the slogan “Mental Health: Stop Exclusion – Dare to Care”, the World Health Organisation (WHO) dedicated the World Health Day to the theme of mental health for the first time in 2001. By doing this, the WHO aimed at initiating a worldwide change of mental health policies and attitudes towards mental illness. This global change was called for because of the high number of people affected as well as the social impact and the high costs of mental illness. In their report, it says accordingly: “there is no health without mental health”.[13]

The WHO European Ministerial Conference on Mental Health in Helsinki in January 2005[14] and the 2006 European Union (EU) Green Paper Improving the mental health of the population: Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union[15] played a vital role for the future of European Union health policy. Promotion of mental health and prevention of mental ill health in children, teenagers and young adults was prioritised because most mental health issues arise before people turn 24.[15]

Since its foundation, Irrsinnig Menschlich has carried out pioneering work, especially with its prevention programme Verrückt? Na und! Seelisch fit in der Schule (Mental? So What! Good mental health at school). Due to the success of the school programme, Irrsinnig Menschlich started to develop, test and expand this service to colleges, universities and companies in 2016.

Irrsinnig Menschlich is a member of the global BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network[16] and contributes to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals[17] 3 (Good Health and Well-Being), 4 (Quality Education), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).


Irrsinnig Menschlich works towards reducing the stigma associated with mental illness which is the main obstacle to improving mental health.[7] The association’s main goal is to raise awareness and to fight individual, public and structural discrimination.[8] As research shows, the combination of information, education and contact with other members of the stigmatised group is the most effective way to reduce stigma.[7] For this reason, Irrsinnig Menschlich always intervenes with teams consisting of both a professionally qualified expert and a personally qualified expert who has experienced and recovered from mental crises.[18]

Irrsinnig Menschlich prevention programmes:

  • Psychisch fit lernen / Verrückt? Na und! (Mentally healthy learning / Mental? So What!) for schools[19]
  • Psychisch fit studieren (Mental well-being in higher education) for higher education[20]
  • Psychisch fit arbeiten (Mental well-being at work) for companies[21]

The programme Mental? So What! Good mental health at school is distributed via social franchising in Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There are cooperative partnerships at local and national level with community mental health service providers such as charities, public health departments and youth welfare offices. In 2019, Irrsinnig Menschlich had reached more than 26,000 young people, more than 3,000 teachers and other multipliers in German schools, vocational schools, higher education, organisations and companies with its programmes. In Austria,[22] the Czech Republic[23] and Slovakia,[24] 9,000 people had taken part in the programmes.[8]

International cooperative partnerships[edit]


  • Dachverband der sozialpsychiatrischen Vereine und Gesellschaften Steiermarks (Federation of social-psychiatric associations and societies of Styria)[25]
  • Pro mente Salzburg[26]
  • Pro mente Burgenland[27]

Czech Republic[edit]


  • Integra Michalovce[29]

Impact and quality[edit]

The programmes Mental? So What! and Mental well-being in higher education have been evaluated several times by the Institute for Social Medicine, Occupational Health and Public Health (ISAP) at Leipzig University. They have been proven to have a preventive effect, to reduce stigma and to promote health.[30][31][32][33][34]

By reducing barriers to accessing the help and advice system, monetary costs of illness are cut substantially too. A study by McKinsey & Company and Ashoka Germany explores the economic potential of the Mental? So What! programme. It shows that costs are reduced by 80 billion Euro for every percentage point of ill pupils in any one year group who start an early treatment after participating in the Mental? So What! School Day.[35]

The Mental? So What! prevention programme has been tested according to the strict quality guidelines of Communities That Care (CTC) and is recommended by the internationally renowned Green List Prevention. In Germany, Mental? So What! is considered an exemplary mental health literacy programme.[36]


The Irrsinnig Menschlich programmes have received several awards and seals of approval:


  1. ^ Dörner, Klaus (2017). Irren ist menschlich Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie. Plog, Ursula; Bock, Thomas; Brieger, Peter; Heinz, Andreas; Wendt, Frank (24., vollständig überarbeitete Auflage ed.). Köln: Psychiatrie Verlag GmbH. ISBN 978-3-88414-610-1. OCLC 964655628.
  2. ^ "Entstehung. Irren ist menschlich – die kurze Geschichte eines Generationswechsels". Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  3. ^ "Geschichte von Irrsinnig Menschlich e.V. › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  4. ^ "Vision und Mission von Irrsinnig Menschlich e.V. › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  5. ^ Lambert, M.; Bock, T.; Naber, D.; Löwe, B.; Schulte-Markwort, M.; Schäfer, I.; Gumz, A.; Degkwitz, P.; Schulte, B.; König, H.; Konnopka, A. (2013-11-05). "Die psychische Gesundheit von Kindern, Jugendlichen und jungen Erwachsenen – Teil 1: Häufigkeit, Störungspersistenz, Belastungsfaktoren, Service-Inanspruchnahme und Behandlungsverzögerung mit Konsequenzen". Fortschritte der Neurologie · Psychiatrie (in German). 81 (11): 614–627. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1355843. ISSN 0720-4299. PMID 24194055.
  6. ^ Karow, A.; Bock, T.; Naber, D.; Löwe, B.; Schulte-Markwort, M.; Schäfer, I.; Gumz, A.; Degkwitz, P.; Schulte, B.; König, H.; Konnopka, A. (2013-11-05). "Die psychische Gesundheit von Kindern, Jugendlichen und jungen Erwachsenen – Teil 2: Krankheitslast, Defizite des deutschen Versorgungssystems, Effektivität und Effizienz von "Early Intervention Services"". Fortschritte der Neurologie · Psychiatrie (in German). 81 (11): 628–638. doi:10.1055/s-0033-1355840. ISSN 0720-4299. PMID 24194056.
  7. ^ a b c Rüsch, N., Berger, M., Finzen, A., Angermeyer, M.C. (2004): Das Stigma psychischer Erkrankungen – Ursachen, Formen und therapeutische Konsequenzen. In: Berger, M. (Hrsg.): Psychische Erkrankungen, Klinik und Therapie. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
  8. ^ a b c "Irrsinnig Menschlich. Jahres- und Wirkungsbericht 2019" (PDF). Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Leitfaden Prävention. Handlungsfelder und Kriterien des GKV-Spitzenverbandes zur Umsetzung von §§ 20 und 20a SGB V vom 21. Juni 2000 in der Fassung vom 27. August 2010". GKV-Spitzenverband. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  10. ^ Angermeyer, Matthias C.; Matschinger, Herbert (January 1997). "Social distance towards the mentally ill: results of representative surveys in the Federal Republic of Germany". Psychological Medicine. 27 (1): 131–141. doi:10.1017/S0033291796004205. ISSN 0033-2917. PMID 9122293.
  11. ^ a b Angermeyer, Matthias; Matschinger, Herbert; Schomerus, Georg (October 2017). "50 Jahre psychiatrische Einstellungsforschung in Deutschland". Psychiatrische Praxis (in German). 44 (7): 377–392. doi:10.1055/s-0043-105723. ISSN 0303-4259. PMID 28561218.
  12. ^ Penn, David L.; Couture, Shannon M. (February 2002). "Strategies for reducing stigma toward persons with mental illness". World Psychiatry. 1 (1): 20–21. ISSN 1723-8617. PMC 1489812. PMID 16946808.
  13. ^ "WHO | 2001: mental health: stop exclusion - dare to care". WHO. Archived from the original on July 9, 2009. Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  14. ^ "Mental Health Declaration for Europe. Facing the Challenges, Building Solutions. WHO European Ministerial Conference on Mental Health. Helsinki, Finland, 12–15 January 2005" (PDF). WHO Europe. 14 January 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Green Paper. Improving the mental health of the population: Towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union" (PDF). European Communities. 14 October 2005. Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  16. ^ "BMW Foundation Responsible Leaders Network". BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  17. ^ "Sustainable Development Goals .:. Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform". Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  18. ^ a b "Verrückt? na und! Seelisch fit in der Schule". (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-25.
  19. ^ "Psychisch fit lernen mit Verrückt? Na und! - Prävention an Schulen › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  20. ^ "Psychisch fit studieren - Forum für seelische Gesundheit an der Uni › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  21. ^ "Psychisch fit arbeiten - Prävention für seelischer Gesundheit im Beruf › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  22. ^ "Verrückt? Na und! in Österreich › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  23. ^ "Verrückt? Na und! in Tschechien › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  24. ^ "Verrückt? Na und! in der Slowakei › Irrsinnig Menschlich e. V." (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  25. ^ "Dachverband Steiermark" (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  26. ^ "Home - Pro Mente Salzburg". Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  27. ^ "pro mente Burgenland - Startseite". (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  28. ^ "Úvod - Fokus Praha – největší nezisková organizace v České republice podporující lidi se zkušeností s duševním onemocněním". Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  29. ^ "úvodná stránka" (in Slovak). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  30. ^ Schulze, B.; Richter-Werling, M.; Matschinger, H.; Angermeyer, M. C. (February 2003). "Crazy? So what! Effects of a school project on students' attitudes towards people with schizophrenia". Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 107 (2): 142–150. doi:10.1034/j.1600-0447.2003.02444.x. ISSN 0001-690X. PMID 12534440.
  31. ^ Conrad, Ines; Dietrich, Sandra; Heider, Dirk; Blume, Anne; Angermeyer, Matthias C.; Riedel‐Heller, Steffi (2009-06-19). Paulus, Peter (ed.). ""Crazy? So what!":: A school programme to promote mental health and reduce stigma – results of a pilot study". Health Education. 109 (4): 314–328. doi:10.1108/09654280910970893. ISSN 0965-4283.
  32. ^ Corrieri, Sandro; Conrad, Ines; Riedel-Heller, Steffi (April 2012). "Info-Pocket-Guides als Beitrag zur Prävention psychischer Erkrankungen". Psychiatrische Praxis (in German). 39 (3): 129–135. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1298899. ISSN 0303-4259. PMID 22318483.
  33. ^ Corrieri, S; Conrad, I; Heider, D; Riedel-Heller, Sg (2012-09-27). "Die Aufklärungsinitiative "Verrückt? Na und!": Ergebnisse der Evaluation". Deutsche Medizinische Wochenschrift (in German). 137 (S 03): s–0032–1323208. doi:10.1055/s-0032-1323208. ISSN 0012-0472.
  34. ^ Koschig, Maria; Conrad, Ines; Riedel-Heller, Steffi. "Abschlussbericht. Evaluation des Forums zur psychischen Gesundheit für Studierende "Psychisch fit studieren" im Setting Hochschule ausgehend von den Zielen des § 20a SGB V und des Leitfadens Prävention des GKV-Spitzenverbandes" (PDF) (in German). Universität Leipzig, Medizinische Fakultät, Institut für Sozialmedizin, Arbeitsmedizin und Public Health (ISAP). Retrieved 13 May 2020.
  35. ^ "Studie von Ashoka und McKinsey zeigt Milliardenpotenzial von sozialen Innovationen | Ashoka | Everyone a Changemaker". (in German). Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  36. ^ Greiner, Wolfgang (2019). DAK Kinder- und Jugendreport 2019 Gesundheitsversorgung von Kindern und Jugendlichen in Deutschland Schwerpunkt: Ängste und Depressionen bei Schulkindern. Storm, Andreas, Witte, Julian, Batram, Manuel, medhochzwei Verlag GmbH (1. Auflage ed.). Heidelberg, Neckar. ISBN 978-3-86216-568-1. OCLC 1128100398.
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External links[edit]