The Federal Association of Families of People with Mental Illness (BApK) has experienced a varied history. It was set up in 1985. Since the second half of the 1960s, there had been moves to attribute greater significance to the role of families in psychiatric care. At the beginning of the 1970s, it was the later mentor of German social psychiatry, Prof. Klaus Dörner, who, for example, tried out the idea of holding a group for families in a psychiatric day clinic in Hamburg. Among the ranks of the umbrella association of psychosocial help organisations (today: umbrella association for community psychiatry), there were not a few family members who wanted to give their own role in psychiatry a political meaning. With the support of the umbrella association of psychosocial help organisations, conferences were started for families in the 1970s. In the context of the psychiatric survey in 1975, the role of families was explicitly emphasised.
In the years after its foundation (and also previously), the central concern was to set up groups for families. The book "Die Angehörigengruppe" (the Families Group) published in 1984 by Asmus Finzen and Matthias C. Angermeyer, represented a milestone. This remarkable book not only examined the work of families in different European countries. Angermeyer's and Finzen's book also portrayed the varied nature of family-oriented interventions in German psychiatry.
The foundation of the BApK in 1985 was therefore a logical consequence after family conferences had taken place in Bonn-Bad Godesberg in 1982 and in Neckargemünd in 1984; these conferences advocated the increasing networking of the families of mentally ill persons. A player then entered the stage in the shape of the first Chairperson of the newly formed BApK, Hildegunt Schütt, who was as keen on lobbying in an overarching association as she was on specific self-help work in regional structures.
In the second half of the 1980s, State associations of the families of mentally ill persons were set up, a process that continued into the 1990s. The fall of the wall between two German countries ensured that the families of mentally ill people acquired a lobby in the new federal states.
The institutionalisation of the families movement achieved the result that the interests of those affected by a family member's mental illness acquired ever greater significance. The BApK was more and more frequently asked for statements on draft legislation at a national level. There was increasing participation in various initiatives – including up to the present day, working with the action alliance Seelische Gesundheit (Emotional Health). Families are making contributions to the development of guidelines, for example for Deutsche Gesellschaft für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie, Psychosomatik und Nervenheilkunde (DGPPN) (German Association for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics). The BApK naturally thrives on numerous individual initiatives such as the appeal "Reinforcing Outreach Help!" established by the Hamburg State Association of Families of the Mentally Ill.
Anyone who wants to delve deeper into the history of the BApK, will not find any systematic treatment. The following links give a lively impression of its history as well as the current work of the BApK: