Since Franco Basaglia's appointment in 1971 as director of the former San Giovanni mental hospital, Trieste has played an international benchmark role in community mental health care. Moving from deinstitutionalization, the Department of Mental Health (DMH) has become a laboratory for innovation on social psychiatry, developing a model that can be defined as the "whole system, whole community" approach. The DMH provides care through a network of community services but also places great emphasis on working with the wider community with a view to promoting mental health and taking care of the social fabric. The network of services is based on 24/7 Community Mental Health Services, whose organization and activities are here described in detail. Data are provided on activity and outcome. The performance of DMH as a World Health Organization collaborating center disseminating best community mental health practices is also reviewed.