There has been a sharp rise in depression and anxiety since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, yet, according to the World Health Organisation, mental health services are among the most disrupted and affected by the crisis. Young people and women are the most vulnerable groups in these post-pandemic times, with structural inequality and precarity heightening the risk of mental health being neglected.
Inside a national framework with a lack of public health services, the aim, from activism in general and the determination of feminisms in particular, is to spotlight these key life questions. How do we care for people who care for others? What alliances and support came about in the sphere of mental health during the pandemic? What types of care exist in activism?
Furthermore, the discussion around mental health must include the issue of stigmatisation. The way in which it has been traditionally represented in the social imaginary engenders victimisation and taboos and breaking these stigmas allows people to seek help. But how do we ask for help when there is no consolidated public structure? Are activist spaces free from this stigma?
This encounter, conducted by Sara Buraya, coordinator of Museo en Red in the Museo, and activist Rafaela Pimentel, brings together activist women over mental health as they reflect on these issues from their own experiences.
Sara Buraya is coordinator of Museo en Red in the Museo Reina Sofía, and a member of the Museo Situado assembly.
Ana CSC is a precarious cultural worker who is “insanely proud” and tries to organise her anger and defend her joy through cultural management with Nada Colectivo and by coordinating projects such as Locus*, where, alongside young people, she explores the confluence between culture and community mental health, encouraging co-existence with “insanity” from mutual support and different creative languages.
Azucena González San Emeterio is a Gestalt psychotherapist for the Spanish Federation of Psychotherapy Associations (FEAP). She holds a degree in Sociology, and is a post-graduate student in Research, specialising in Feminism and Gender Perspective. She is also a co-founder of PTF Feminist Psychotherapy, where she offers therapeutic training, chiefly in Madrid and Barcelona. She is a member of the Gestalt stable team: Psychotherapy and Training (GPyF) and co-founder of Moiras Social Educational Participation, a social intervention group with a feminist perspective. Moreover, she is a trainer in gender perspectives, equality policies and gender-based violence.
Irene Hernández Arquero is a mental health trainer, expert adviser, social educator and sexologist who offers therapy support. Throughout her career, she has moved through different spaces of activism, for instance Vallekas Zona Roja (VKZR), Centro Social Okupado Seco, Flipas GAM, and the Platform for People Affected by Mortgages in Vallekas (PAH VK).
Rafaela Pimentel is an activist in the sphere of feminism and domestic work who received the Avanzadoras Award in 2018. Her work with feminist movements and women’s movements began in her country of origin, the Dominican Republic, and she has continued to be involved in activism since arriving in Spain in 1992. Today, she is part of the Museo Situado assembly and Territorio Doméstico, a collective in which domestic workers organise and assemble to assert their rights. She is also an activist in the 8M Feminist Coordinator and promotes the creation of the Labour Union of Female Domestic and Care Workers (SINTRAHOCU).
Patricia Rey is a mental health activist who trained as an agent of mutual support and offers therapy support. She also works in La Porvenir, a project that organises and supports a response team for crises and helping with processes of discontinuing psychiatric medication.