En route with a network

Area of action: Educational Poverty
running project
since April 2023


In recent years, cases of mental illness among youngsters, aged 6-18, have grown exponentially. The waiting lists for reception and health care facilities have become longer and as a consequence the waiting times for entering care have increased.

Context: Distress among youth in Milan

In recent years, Milan has seen an increase in psychiatric service admission requests on behalf of youngsters. Of these many cases are tied to acts of self-harm, suicide attempts and anorexia.

The explanation for this phenomenon lies in part in the long-term effects of the COVID-19 lockdown and isolation: a collective state of stress which resurfaced latent distress and accelerated the appearance of psycho-emotional disorders.

Many Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry services (Hereafter Neuropsichiatria dell’Infanzia e dell’Adolescenza – NPIA), territorial facilities and hospital departments for the reception and care of minors – already tried by the lack of resources – recorded an upsurge in waiting lists and prolongation of waiting times for entering care.


The project

Through Attiva-Mente – En route with a network (Attiva-Mente – Percorsi in rete), CIAI and other operators, from both the public and private social sector, intervene on cases of discomfort in young people aged 6 to 18. The aim: cutting ties with the loneliness attached to mental illness.

A special focus is laid on cases of social isolation, attacks on the body (eating disorders and self-harm) and dysfunctional behaviors (e.g. active or passive bullying).

Attiva-Mente implements actions aimed at:

SUPPORT families awaiting formal care of minors through tools that support connection, relationships and care.

COORDINATE interventions through an operational protocol, involving both public and private actors, which can guarantee the continuity of psychological support starting from schools.

CREATE AWARENESS among young people and their teachers and give them both educational and operational tools to respond and identify forms of discomfort from the very start.


Actions of the project

  • Individual and group support to families of youngsters, aged 15 to 19, waiting to be taken in charge by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction of the ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda and NPIA. An immediate intervention which prevents undesirable development of the malaise, which acts as a bridge towards entering the actual treatment.
  • Spaces for listening and support aimed at students and families to inform and accompany them in overcoming the stigma and cultural barriers associated with mental health.
  • Training for teachers and educators on how to follow and act with children who show signs of emotional, psychological or relational malaise or are currently being treated for them.
  • Workshops for families to address educational matters, develop strategies for listening and intercepting signs of anguish.
  • School workshops aimed at students (aged 12-17) to develop the ability to recognize emotions and moods, share them, ask for help, but also to stimulate their ability to help and support peers.


boys and girls
teachers or educators


The project is carried out by CIAI in partnership with the Associazione Contatto and University Milano Bicocca, and in collaboration with Psychosocial Center of Milan (Centro Psico-Sociale; CPS), Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry services (Neuropsichiatria dell’Infanzia e dell’Adolescenza; NPIA), and Niguarda Hospital.

Supported by