Casa do Povo de Messines combats stigma associated with disability and mental health

Through contact with animals and nature

The Animamente project, developed by Casa do Povo de Messines with the support of the BPI Award – Fundação “la Caixa” Capacitar, aims to promote the acquisition of new skills and autonomy by people with disabilities and help with mental health, through the contact with animals and nature.

This is a project that has already been active for five months and was conceived by the psychomotor driver Nádia Palhinha and the psychologist Patrícia Gonçalves, due to the need to «fight the stigma against disability and mental health, enhancing autonomy and favoring social inclusion. of the beneficiaries, in the western Algarve, especially in the municipality of Silves», explains the Casa do Povo de São Bartolomeu de Messines.

At the moment, Animamente aims to train 45 beneficiaries, from the municipality of Silves, with disabilities and/or mental illness, with more emotional, social and motor skills through the benefits of this therapy. In addition, the project also works with 40 family members and informal caregivers.

According to Nádia Palhinha, project coordinator, Animamente is based on four pillars: «training the technicians involved to ensure increasingly effective and personalized support; development of users who, on a weekly basis, have the opportunity to experience an alternative therapeutic moment, the incentive for inclusion in society, through work and other socially useful activities and volunteering and, finally, support for families and the opening of the project to community, through gatherings and family meetings with partner entities where socialization, sharing and mutual assistance are promoted».

In terms of physical health, the objective is to improve coordination and balance. In the cognitive field, the project aims to increase «the capacity for logical reasoning, memory and work on psychosocial skills, essential for greater autonomy in the work context».

According to Patrícia Gonçalves, «the expectations of the social impact of this project are to improve the quality of life of at least 70% of the beneficiaries, reduce the use of hospital emergencies and medication intake and manage to insert ten of these people into society, at the associative level, sporting, educational and/or professional'.