In Spain, the ambitious mental health plan launched by Barcelona is emulated

On the forecourt of the “municipal civic center” in the Barcelona district of Gracia – a mixture of associations, adolescents and culture – Maryam Fuentes, a 30-year-old social educator, and Julia Arias, a 29-year-old psychologist, blend in young people playing ball, chatting or taking drawing lessons. The two women with a youthful look, smiling and pleasant, hold the permanence of a pioneer service offered by the Catalan city in thirteen civic centers of the city, called Konsulta’m.

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Since March 2021, these two professionals, who usually work in a public child and juvenile mental health center (CSMIJ), have been seconded every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to this informal and familiar space for adolescents. On the second floor of the building, they receive anonymously and free of charge, without an appointment, without a white coat and without the parents necessarily being informed, young people aged 12 to 22 who need to talk about their problems.

“During the first visit, we try to assess their discomfort and advise them. If we see that they have a clinical symptom, we redirect them to a CSMIJ, but our mission is above all focused on prevention, explains Julia Arias. When a problem is detected in time, we prevent it from becoming chronic or pathological and drifting into more serious mental disorders. And, in a way, we are helping to relieve mental health services, which are overcrowded. »

“Find My Place”

Antonio (who did not wish to give his name), a 22-year-old tall dark-haired man with black eyes, has already come twice since September. “I couldn’t see myself in an armchair telling my problems to an elderly doctor. But, here, it’s like talking to friends, he confides with a shy smile. I was able to say aloud what I feel, the feeling of not finding my place and, at the same time, of not having the right to be sad because a man must be strong. » Lucia Salazar, 18, no longer felt the need to return to the Konsulta’m after her fifth session. “Julia and Maryam gave me advice on not hating myself and learning to socialize. Without them, I think I would have sunk into my unhappiness…”

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Since the beginning of the year, the thirteen Konsulta’m, scattered in the different districts of Barcelona, ​​have thus received nearly 2,300 young people, i.e. 700 more than in 2021. And less than 7% had to be redirected to a mental health center. On the strength of this success, the town hall has opened eight other Konsulta’m for the over 22s. And she is continuing to deploy other psychological aid tools, as part of the 2016-2022 mental health plan, deployed as soon as the Barcelona alternative left formation came to power in common, led by the right activist at the Ada Colau accommodation.

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