T This article presents a historical and epistemological study of the construction of public policies about mental health and psychosocial care in Brazil´s Unified Health System, the SUS. To that end, it proposes an approach that identifies actions and strategies related to social participation in the construction of policies, one of the founding principles of SUS, seeking to delineate its importance in the specific trajectory of the psychiatric reform process. Subsequently, it highlights the originality and importance of actions that used culture as a means and as an end, in the sense of not restricting psychiatric reform to a transformation limited to public services or health in the strict sense of the term, emphasizing the principle of construction of a new locus in society for madness. Finally, it provides a historical follow-up of the promulgation of mental health policies in Brazil, identifying the most important initiatives and their impacts on the transformation of the care model, and concludes by questioning the conservative restructuring that is currently taking place.
Mental health; Anti-asylum movement; Psychiatric reform; Community participation; Psychosocial rehabilitation