The Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services of Hospital Magalhães Lemos (HML) aim to contribute for the recovery and acquisition of personal and social competences for people with severe mental health disabilities, necessary to be able to function within a community, which requires an ability to be autonomous and be able to maintain quality of life within the best possible conditions.
To achieve this, the different characteristics of artistic production have great importance for psychosocial rehabilitation processes, because they enable self-knowledge which creates self-confidence and self-appreciation. They also create a healthy environment where the person can feel safe; facilitate verbal and non-verbal communication through creativity; stimulate expression through different vehicles and allow for the appreciation and acknowledgement of ideas, emotions, experiences and social encounters. It is based on these aspects that the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services of HML has been implementing a set of activities, most of them outside of the hospital’s walls, which have been named “Pontes para a Inclusão” (Bridges to Inclusion). These activities are predominantly done in collaboration with renowned cultural institutions in the city of Porto and aim to fight the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health, promoting social inclusion through contact between the diverse audiences and people with severe mental health disabilities.
“Pontes para a Inclusão” consists of different activities that aim to build bridges with the community. Listed here are the Arts’ related activities:
- Arte em Movimento (Art and Movement): Occasional art exhibitions of work made by the patients (including plastic arts, ceramics, and mixed media) on an ongoing atelier. These are set in different places around the city. It allows for the art to be appreciated in itself, instead of being directly correlated with the patients.
- No Centro do Palco (Center Stage): Theatre play performances by two inhouse ongoing drama groups in different locations including schools, theatres and universities which are open to demystifying concepts related to mental disabilities.
- Provar e Gostar (Taste it and Enjoy): Occasional confection of meals by the ongoing inhouse culinary atelier for HML social activities and participations in workshops and fairs outside of the hospital.
- Ao ritmo da Inclusão (To the Beat of Inclusion): Weekly visit of a group of patients to the electronic music atelier of Casa da Música (Porto) within the program Digitópia, where they can create and record their own music by using the available resources.
- Ver para Criar (See to Create): Ongoing visits to museums and art exhibitions through protocols between HML and several institutions from Porto, so the patients can absorb different artistic techniques and methods.
- A Nossa Tela (Our Canvas): Ongoing elaboration and distribution of an inhouse HML newspaper fully written and designed by the patients, which includes not only relevant scientific articles but also creative writing pieces.
- Incluir a Cantar (Inclusion Through Singing): Ongoing choral group formed by both patients and nursing technicians of HML, directed by a professional maestro, presenting occasional live shows in the city of Porto. It aims to be an HML singing group, not just a HML patients’ singing group.
The project, due to its plurality of activities, has been performed in several types of locations in the city of Porto but also surrounding areas. Some examples are Casa da Música (Porto), Museu (Museum) Soares dos Reis (Porto) and Museu (Museum) D. Diogo de Sousa (Braga). The base for ongoing activities and practices is the Rehabilitation Services Area rooms, within HML.
Nurses and nursing technicians of the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services of Hospital Magalhães Lemos and permanent and outpatients of the Hospital which suffer from severe and chronic mental health disabilities with difficulties related to psychosocial functioning and community integration.
“For me it is extremely important to participate in the theatre groups and the choir. I love to learn new things and be with my friends, but first and foremost, I love to perform to an audience. On the stage we are an artist like any other and I think that is how people see us”
-Testament of a participant of “Pontes para a Inclusão”, patient of the HML.