Cultural Perspectives on Mental Health

foto-pablo                   Vinicius

Pablo Gagliesi, MD                   Vinicíus Dornelles, Psicólogo Me.

In 2014, Behavioral Tech joined with Fundacíon Foro in Argentina to welcome 130 people from across Central and South America to the Dialectical Behavior Therapy Intensive™ in Buenos Aires.  This training was spearheaded by Fundacíon Foro director Pablo Gagliesi, MD, who is a driving force for expanding DBT in Latin America.  Along with another dedicated psychologist, Vinicíus Dornelles, Psicólogo Me., we are honored to offer another DBT Intensive Training in the region. Later this month, Behavioral Tech Trainer Dr. Tony DuBose will travel to Vinicíus’s hometown of Porto Alegre, Brazil, to lead the training.

In honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week 2015, we reached out to both Pablo and Vinicíus and asked them about the status of mental health in their respective countries and how stigma affects those suffering with mental illness.

Pablo: In Argentina, the changes in relation to human rights and the fight against discrimination in the last 10 years are amazing. Much remains to be done.

The social problems of verbal abuse are still rife. While there is universal access to health and social protection, we have problems for people accessing [these] right[s]. The right to have the most efficient treatment – based on evidence, is one of the central problems. Access to work, something that dignifies people, is still a [problem].

Vinicíus: There’s a great stigma towards people with mental illness in Brazil. I believe this is due to a lack of information about mental illness and a long history of discrimination and exclusion [of] people [who are] suffer[ing].

There is neglect from mental health professionals in studying and properly educating their patients about mental illness. This happens because of the belief that the patient’s knowledge about his psychopathology would turn their identity into the psychopathology. Besides, there is a group of professionals that talk about mental illness in a pejorative way, saying that the identity of the patients is the mental illness.  Another thing that contributes [to stigma] is the patients’ fear of seeking treatment, receiving a diagnostic, and becoming a “crazy person.”  And finally, in our society it’s very difficult for a person to assume his mental illness and still be accepted in the [employment] field.

Brazil needs two specific things in this situation: A government program to stop this stigma and a review of the formation of professionals of mental health for a more valid model of professional formation.

Use #MIAW2015 and #IAmStigmaFree on Facebook and Twitter to join in the discussion surrounding Mental Illness Awareness Week.


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