When the desire to study unites people with and without mental illness

When the desire to study unites people with and without mental illness

Educational spaces of the Braulio Moyano Hospital / Photo: Daniel Dabove.

Students and directors highlighted the different educational spaces of the Braulio Moyano Hospital as opportunities “for meeting and social inclusion” due to their condition of being open and having the participation of the community and not only of women who are hospitalized in that institution. for mental health reasons.

These spaces cover three levels – primary, secondary and professional training -, are located within the Moyano facilities, are motorized by its workers and seek to guarantee the education of patients and users of the hospital.

The initiative promotes the paradigm of mental health with a rights perspective, to the detriment of asylum and asylum that governed until the sanction of the National Mental Health Law No. 26,657. And it aims to break with the prejudice and social exclusion that people who are going through severe mental suffering have historically suffered.

“Participating in these formal education spaces is a way to start a path of inclusion. I think that social stigma is almost impossible, but this helps a lot to break that look that society has on people with mental illness,” he told Télam Silvia Allocati, head of the Moyano Social Service department and director of the “A classroom for all” project.

Photo Daniel Dabove
Photo: Daniel Dabove.

From the latter emerged, in April 2010, Educational Center No. 27 of primary level for adults, which is attended by around 20 students of different ages from 18 years old every morning.

“Although we always seek to do as many activities as possible outside the hospital, bringing the school here (through the hospital) really ended up being a very nice experience, since the number of students increased, for whom this is an opportunity to recover skills and skills that they have lost due to pathologies,” Allocati said.

Located in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Barracas, Moyano is an exclusive mental health center for women, in which more than 600 users are currently undergoing hospitalization.

During the visit of this agency to the primary school, the students were “very happy” to be able to access their studies and, although they differed in preference between mathematics and literature, they all assured that they enjoyed this space.

Photo Daniel Dabove
Photo: Daniel Dabove.

However, between laughter and a bit of “embarrassment”, they preferred to “call each other to silence” and continue to focus on the day’s activity: assembling and painting poetry whisperers, which they would later use for a reading day open to all hospital staff. and to their families.

“We see the same content and there are frustrations as in any school, but they get ahead like any student, only that you have to accompany a lot emotionally,” said the primary teacher, Carolina Alvarenque, and the project coordinator, Susana Valdivia.

“They come with the goal of reaching high school and finishing their studies and that is super motivational,” they pointed out and agreed that it is a space that also “serves a lot of support because it allows them to form networks among themselves and get to know each other much more.”

A few meters from the pharmacy pavilion where the primary school is located, more than 100 students – users of the Moyano, Borda and Tobar García mental health hospitals and non-users – attend Secondary Education Center No. 49 in the afternoons.

Photo Daniel Dabove
Photo: Daniel Dabove.

“The experience of meeting everyone together in an educational space is very enriching, since they discover each other and grow a lot,” said Adriana Castaño, who has worked for more than 15 years in this high school that she currently directs.

And he added: “Many of them are deeply affected by the social discrimination that exists and being able to study here is a stimulus because they really are very integrated by their peers.”

This was reported by María de los Ángeles (38) and Gabriela (45), third-year students, who assured that “here we help each other and we are always united as colleagues”, and highlighted the “nice group” they formed.

For her part, Andrea (51), user and second-year student, told Télam that her great expectation is to be able to finish her studies. “We all have the right to be able to finish high school regardless of the times,” she emphasized.

In front of the showcases, the directors of the three institutions agreed to fight for a “free, quality and inclusive public education”

Andrea went through a hospital stay 13 years ago and, throughout this decade, she assured, she witnessed all the improvements that were made at the school: “We have all been in this together and that is what I like the most” .

There, where the hospital facilities gave an account of the “abandonment of mental health by the government of the City (of Buenos Aires)” on which they depend, the teachers and coordinators of the Vocational Training Center No. 2 set out to transform it into a space for “quality” teaching of different trades that may well become “their sustenance”.

“It is a population that practically in its entirety is in a situation of precariousness and lack of employment, so the challenge is to include them socio-laborally and educate for inclusion from exclusion,” Gustavo Ghanem told Télam and Ana Laura Iglesias, director and manager of the center.

There, more than 20 teachers offer free courses on IT operator, programmer, hairdresser, professional makeup, cook, leather goods, ceramics and glass fusion, among others.

More than 20 teachers offer free courses in IT operator, programmer, hairdresser, professional makeup, cook, leather goods, ceramics and glass fusion

One of the graduates is Cintia Toledo (41), an artisan from the Buenos Aires town of Coronel Brandsen, who set up her own workshop after taking ceramics and mosaic classes at the center, which she described as a “unique experience” and highlighted the great ” human quality”.

“Studying at Moyano was breaking down all the barriers that one can have because of the social prejudice that exists” regarding mental health, Cintia told Télam and added: “It was really nice because I met the girls who always They treated me very well and cared about me.”

Of the 30 annual students that there were when the space was exclusively for users -in its beginnings- it went to 600 students per four-month period, of which “25% are users of the Moyano and Borda hospitals and the rest are not”, explained the director from the center and highlighted the “attitudinal and mood changes” that they notice in the users from “socialization with another who is not in hospital conditions.”

In front of the showcases where they proudly exhibit the work of their students, the directors of the three institutions agreed to fight for “free, quality and inclusive public education” also in mental health centers.

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