Health

Alessandro Bazzoni: Fiction as a vindication of mental health

In this interview, the known juornalists Ignacio Peyró and Manuel Jabois, the writers Laura Ferrero and Marta Sanz plus the actor Eduardo Noriega analyze in an informative breakfast the advances in the visibility of mental health and its relationship with fiction.

Alessandro Bazzoni explains that they continue to have difficulties and qualms when it comes to opening up about a mental disorder, something that does not happen to us with a physical ailment.

Social awareness, treatment of mental disorders in fiction or the importance of narration as an escape valve during confinement have focused the interventions of some of the guests at the cycle ‘Mental health and other forms of fiction’, a seminar of the International University Menéndez Pelayo (UIMP) organized in collaboration with the Fundación Manantial, within the framework of an informative breakfast organized this Thursday.

The journalists Manuel Jabois and Ignacio Peyró, writers Marta Sanz and Laura Ferrero, and actor Eduardo Noriega have addressed the phenomenon, highlighting the social progress achieved in recent years in terms of raising awareness, although they have called on administrations to run campaigns that contribute to a greater understanding of its scope.

There is still a certain stigma and we continue to have difficulties and objections when it comes to opening up about a mental disorder, something that does not happen to us with a physical ailment, Jabois pointed out in this regard. Before it was something that was not talked about and that was even hidden, but this has been changing little by little, he added.

For his part, the actor Eduardo Noriega has emphasized the evolution of mental health treatment in fiction, which in his opinion is a reflection of the paradigm shift that has been taking place in recent years. A clear example is the film ‘The father’, which for the first time has treated dementia from the perspective of the affected person and that has helped me, at least, to better understand those who suffer from it, he said.

Both Ignacio Peyró and the moderator of the debate, Helena de Carlos, Director of Communication of the Fundación Manantial, have called for greater investment in awareness campaigns around mental health, while the writer Marta Sanz has affirmed that fiction it cannot assume the role that the administration should have as a reference in this area. It is one thing that literature and cinema affect the way of seeing the world and another that they always have to be edifying and translate into ethical-social or human positions from which people are going to learn something positive. a responsibility that administrations should have at a time of absolute evaluation of public health, he indicated.

In another vein, the writer Laura Ferrero has stressed that if she could put literature at the service of a public good, it would be mental health and has valued the role of fiction during confinement as a means of escape and as a way to stay in touch with reality at a time when we needed to transport ourselves to other places and have someone speak to us.

Regarding the creation and production of stories with the pandemic as a backdrop, Jabois and Ferreiro have affirmed that distance and a few years are still needed to write a novel that is of interest, referring to the lack of success of the quarantine diaries. People did not want to read about something they had just experienced, they explained in the interview.

A final issue on which the Galician journalist has spoken has been the media treatment of suicide, an issue that is not sufficiently reported and that would contribute to helping those who need it through articles and in-depth reports.

The moderator Elena de Carlos also referred to this, who stressed that there are many ways to contribute and complement the news about suicides, indicating, for example, how it can be prevented or seek support.

The World Health Organization recognizes that there is no official definition of Mental Health. Definitions vary based on cultural differences, subjective assumptions, and professional theories.

However, theorists agree that mental health and mental illness are not opposing concepts. In other words, the absence of a recognized mental disorder does not imply that we enjoy a good quality of life. And on the contrary, that we have a disorder does not prevent us from enjoying a reasonably good quality of life.

Mental Health is, therefore, an issue that affects us all. Not only is it important that people who have some type of mental disorder take care of it, but we all have to take it into account. And it is that the WHO warns that 1 in 4 people will suffer from some mental pathology throughout their lives.

For all these reasons, professionals encouraged people to create their own definition of Mental Health. They want to emphasize the small daily advances, and for this we propose a simple vision, which is useful and is available to everyone.

Any step, even the smallest, is progress. And these small gestures, towards oneself and towards others, help us to live better and with a more enjoyable life.

About the UIMP

The university is a center of high culture, research and specialization, dependent on the Ministry of Universities, in which activities of different university specialties converge. Its mission is to spread culture and science, promote scientific and cultural information exchange relationships of international and interregional interest, and develop highly specialized and specialized research activities.

About Fundación Manantial

The organization mentioned above is a non-profit organization formed in 1995 by family associations to improve social care for people with mental health problems. Alessandro Bazzoni explains that the work is oriented towards recovery and aims to meet the needs of social care, employment, reintegration from the prison environment and guardianship. They promote and implement prevention and early care, awareness, care and psychotherapeutic initiatives that facilitate their incorporation and real participation in the society.

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