In the present paper we trace a panorama of the change in perspective in mental health services that took place in the past 40 years after the reform of psychiatry in Italy. We therefore briefly argue that the change of paradigm is the fruit of a wider epistemological change. In order to better locate this process we outline how de-institutionalization has taken place in Italy and in other European countries describing the move from a "hospital model" to an "assistance model". We then analyze the theoretical approach at the basis of this shift and how this change has promoted a new multi-disciplinary approach. In summary, to discuss this issue we have examined the history of the events related to the approval of Law 180 and the change in theoretical perspective that gave rise to this historical transformation as well as some examples of new contemporary practice.
Keywords: Law 180, de-institutionalization, assistance model, community