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La Colifata, Mental Health and communication
  • LT. 22 Radio "La Colifata" - Virrey Aviles 3740 - depto D CP:1427 Buenos Aires Argentina
  • +54 4-554-4356
  • Alfredo Olivera

The Colifata radio: first radio in the world from a neuropsychiatric hospital

  • Inclusion : Citizenship / Transport
  • South America : Argentina
  • Experience Index Card

From Alfredo Olivera the Mar 19, 2013

The project is 21 years old, it was the first radio in the world to transmit from a psychiatric and was model of intervention in the field of mental health and communication.

1. The context

The Colifata is located at the Hospital Borda in Buenos Aires, a hospital with more than 160 years of existence, the most known and emblematic of the Argentina. Colifata, legally is a civil association non-profit, that in this hospital has assembled its small transmitter plant, transmission and antenna equipment (broadcasts on 100.1 FM). It is from the gardens where the Interventional device called group radio device is mounted. The administrative headquarters of the Civil Association is located outside of the hospital and there also other activities as colifatos microentrepreneurship (venture that produces work, therapeutic group outpatient, La Colifata TV, solidarity Colifata, etc, also be the headquarters administrative.

The project is 21 years old, was the first radio in the world to transmit from a psychiatric and was model of intervention in the field of mental health and communication.

Annually on average about 600 patients (users who have problems of psychic condition) takes the stand in the Saturday radio broadcast - at least one time-. In this space within the hospital, everyone has the right to speak: patients and listeners.

The Association develops specific strategies of intervention in relation to users that works, the aim is to work to create conditions of autonomy. The radio helps to produce symbolic resources and social bond. Helping to produce and sustain a life in community, achieving management skills for everyday life. The Association works with a number close to 40 people per year, with the aim of guaranteeing them possibility of expression and loop.
In this context, La Colifata is located as a practice that promotes the life in community of people with mental illness as a means of communication that enables multiple problems in interlaced way. To greater social response, more likely to order clinical work. Greater movement in the radio device, greater ability to positively impact the community working the dimension of stigma and promoting solidarity and inclusion practices.

2. The objective of the Colifata

In our case it is essential to act to facilitate the construction of social bond, and the base is taking the word to facilitate processes of symbolic construction as a resource that helps a stabilization. From another perspective, the goal is achieved or help that these people can sustain life in community.

At the beginning, there was much difficulty because it was not a decision of the authorities of the institution, and there is no reference of such projects since it was something absolutely new. Thus, some lack of understanding manifested: how a radio can be vehicle to create this space in health? This 21 years ago was "unthinkable". And showed it the development of the practice.
Principle, the founder of the Colifata faced course with resistors and fears, including the risk of the media, which is transformed into an experience where the "rare", the spectacle of the rare display "present in the formulas of the talk-show, featuring scenes from private life, carried the public displayed as a spectacle of the rare".
The colifata continued to be a bridge of communication highly eco-friendly and active, thanks to the good care that took the experience from the press in general.

3 Implementation, development

The Colifata project deals with media, mainly radio, for implementation in dialogue of people. Those who take the word they are. They carry a psychiatric diagnosis, and the community tends to exclude them. These communication spaces, it is not give lessons to the community but to create the conditions of meeting.

Called themselves the radio: radio device group, opened a space in a courtyard of a hospital, where come Saturday 50 patients, and more than 25 listeners, visitors, friends or family members, who come to share the broadcast. It is like a radio marathon that lasts for 6 to 7 hours, with different programs, which vary according to the discussions that arise, they can cause. It transmits the days Saturday from the grounds of the Psychiatric Hospital and is heard live by 100.1 FM or online at

The most interesting thing that happens is what was not envisaged: those involved build sense of experience, what each brings and how to bring it. There are various radio formats; that domination is taking the word and the movement of the word.
Coordinate professionals, just that is built a plot, a meaning to it produced.
The situation of the person who takes the word is taken into account. Speaking on its own behalf, people exercise their rights.

The public, i.e. the listeners of the Radio Colifata, aren't just in the neighborhood or live in the psychiatric hospital, La Colifata is heard much more than the psychiatric hospital (there are listeners of argentina but also from Spain, Latin Americans and people around the world speaking countries.) Only read messages letting listeners on facebook every Saturday we realize this) La Colifata enables a group of people confined in living in the hospital is in dialogue with a broader group of people.

The chosen topics being present, interesting, conveners, to connect people with others. It is also an opportunity to rethink these constructions and operate, through solidarity and active modes as healthy resources of our community. The listener reviews your ideas and built La Colifata. The meeting comes the meeting and the project itself.
As a concrete example, the Colifata uses a (outdoor mobile) car, gifted by listeners of La Colifata, which allows patients to go to the scene to make individual reports on the current situation.
The Colifata focuses on themes that are search engines, to create spaces that are worn on universal themes (apart from Pathology).
For example, the issue can be transmitted from a place where noted good practices, or occurred where a particular fact; and those who take the word news, enter into discussion (e.g. pollution of a river problem...). This creates a double effect: it creates the possibility of expression to new collective social; and - paradoxically - who this possibility, is a subject of the who - a priori - not expected rather than disability and disease. This double movement is one of the keys to more powerful project
Patients used the radio to donate Word spaces to others.

4. The media

From the human perspective:
The Association is comprised of a small group; two years ago, about 8 professionals working: psychologists, psychiatrist, communicators, and social workers (social workers) and administrative.
First, the project was supported by small community radio, and after a large radio held the Colifata giving greater visibility (particularly thanks to Lalo mir, a journalist well known in Argentina); the participation of the audience is equally essential.

From the financial perspective:
The first 10 years, the Colifata ran based on volunteering. Then he professionalized and resources came from Europe, Spain and France mainly. E.g.: between 2008 and 2010, 85% of the annual budget came from Europe. Among others, the National Academy of Arts and Sciences of France, who regulates and controls the activity of the foundations (led by the singer and friend of the project Manu Chao). In 2009, wine 64% from France.
In 2008: The Colifata made an action in Spain: El "Aquarius" (drink Coca Cola in Spain) advertised a 45 seconds "human is extraordinary," for which the Radio Colifata was chosen.

In addition, part (6 min.) of the film Tetro, Frank Coppola, is dedicated to a scene in which the protagonist makes a practice in the Colifata.

The Colifata worked directly in the creation of dozens of similar radios in Argentina and the world: open of Mexico, Radio Senza Muri of Italy, total normal of Sweden, radio Aurora outra voice of Portugal and radio France Citron son the examples more recent.


5 Evaluation

The greatest achievements are the creation of this place for everyone who has a particular way of seeing the world is expressed, and which produces wealth for what results from this meeting. Everyone is going to think and feel different things. Instead of leaving to complain, comes out to offer the possibility of an Exchange.
The positive is the perseverance of this project which, after so many years, it follows. It is not like a fashion of radio which then disappears.

Today, 20 people are not institutionalized, living outside the hospital. Their situations remain difficult (precariousness and vulnerability) by reason of income: most of these people benefit from the pension that gives the State (helps the disability), which corresponds to very limited resources; very commonly, this Board serves not just to pay the rent of the hotel room where they live. To assume the rest of the expenses, people are indigent, eat in churches or community.
They need to create an own version of his own life, and therefore it must create conditions for greater autonomy.

On average are 35 people who are part of the active row of the Colifata.

Between 2002 and 2010, years for which we have a precise statistical tracking, the percentage of annual release is 35% (those who now hold a life in community).
Specifies the percentage of reintegration of the hospital of the person externadas after the monitoring of the programme strategy of the Colifata is 10%, while normally, the average hospital is 40% of reintegration after the release.
Since 2010, the Colifata has financing problems.

The main satisfaction is when a person discovers or produce / protagonist of their own recovery, feels when he checked it may be like any other - trying to carry out a project of life. To give some specific examples, through the radio has been who to recovered the relationship with his family, or who could continue working thanks to a contact. People build a life with dignity, without denying the particular circumstances but being able to do something with them.
Other satisfactions are when we find that society in general, listeners in particular are mobilized to respond to so-called solidarity. Opens the possibility of a sunset in dialogue between a community that has difficulty to include people. Realities are changing (loneliness, illness, lack of perspective of life; and prejudice, fear, ignorance of the other); with the active solidarity, generated actions that benefit themselves and others.

The lessons that the Colifata drew from this experience:
1. The important thing is to think open intervention devices: a workspace can be developed for people in States of suffering and marginalization, which aggravate, and other spaces that modified life courses.
Think not only about a device of mediation as atelier to promote positive development, sinon generate a concrete fact of action in life, the city, the place. Change in concrete practices discriminatory exclusion.
2. Group radio device is better than the traditional: may favour processes of release from the hospital, and once accomplished, function as a space of encoraje to manage the daily life in a better way. The group radio changes the social look not with a speech but generating conditions concrete meeting. The radio does not say how to behave, but it is a bridge to build more solidarity and more competent people.

The Association Council Colifata for who would like to play this action:
Must not resign under any view to the uniqueness of each person; Hence this value, which can become a differential value.
These projects must not have aimed "normalize" anyone but to create spaces so that each can perform and the only way I know is the production of singularity.

Canonical language : Spanish
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