introduction: the implementation of the mental health policy in the health centers of campinas, southeastern brazil, is analysed. material and method: the methodology used consisted of a descriptive epidemiological study of a sample of 150 patients, discharged from a psychiatric hospital, and referred to health centers for continuing treatment. during the 4 months following discharge the attendance of the patients at these centers and return visits into hospital were verified. results: the results showed that 48.6% of the patients discharged by hospitals did not turn up at the health centers. of those who did get those, 51.4% abandoned their treatment before the end of the 4 months.the percentaje of 24.7% of the patients returned to hospital, most of them receiving a diagnosis of psychosis. conclusions: the problems encountered in the implementation of the mental health policy in the health center networt in campinas as regards the definition of the policy, the organization of the work of the professional teams and the results these services achieve, were brought out. the evidence that the transformation of the asylum calls for new psycho-social rehabilitation services and intersectional articulation to obtain good results in de-hospitalization and the salvaging of the citizenship of mentally-ill patients is reinforced.