HomeBlogMental Health, a necessary right

Mental Health, a necessary right

Hello everyone, my name is Leire Valero, Occupational Therapist at Petra Lekuona, a Matia center located in a small town of Oiartzun (Gipuzkoa). My experience as a therapist is linked to the field of functional diversity and, in recent years, more specifically to mental health. Therefore, on the occasion of the celebration of the International Mental Health Day, I would like to tell you in first person and from this field of occupational therapy that I am so passionate about, some of what I have learned from the people I have the pleasure of accompanying.

Re-learning to look

In my relational experience, people with mental health problems are a group that suffers from a stereotyped vision that does not match their reality. We are talking about people who, perhaps because of their own experience, always take you into account, they do not discriminate against anyone. They are capable of understanding and adapting to difficult situations in a way that is worthy of admiration, and they are always willing to incorporate new activities into their daily routines that enrich their daily lives, and that are based on particular interests linked to their life project.

All this leads me to think that if they are capable of observing us without prejudice or clichés, how is it possible that we do not do the same? There is no doubt that we have a lot to learn from them. 

How did I face the change?

When I first made contact in this world, I carried my fears with me. Things I heard around me that made me wonder if I would be able to carry out a productive and meaningful activity for and with them. Would I be able to empathize with their circumstances?  That fear of not knowing who you are going to meet, or how these people would react to my arrival.

But then I walked through the door of the occupational workshop and found myself in an engaging environment. The radio was playing in the background listening to "Los 40 Principales", some people were busy weaving wicker baskets, others with a pyrograph, some others coloring mandalas, or reading the newspaper and having a round table discussion. We could hear laughter, diverse and scattered conversations, in short, life. An atmosphere that invited you to stay from the very first moment.

In an instant all my fears disappeared and I said to myself: I think I am going to enjoy this experience. Let's see what happens.

My experience as a professional

Since then and until now I have been in many fields and work environments working as an occupational therapist and each field is different but valuable and enriching, but I have to confess that working with people with mental health problems is what has filled me the most, both professionally and personally.

At the moment I am part of the team at Petra Lekuona's Residential Unit for People with Severe Mental Disorder. We are a big family dedicated to supporting the day to day life of the people we accompany. A task that involves giving continuity to an individual and personalized life plan that dignifies and encourages the life project of each and every one of them.

Here we work on basic and instrumental activities of daily living, social and behavioral skills in the community, productive leisure activities, as well as skills related to the workplace in order to move forward together.

We accompany people in achieving to maintain or recover the significance of their lives both inside and outside the unit. For this reason we promote activities such as:

  • Go shopping with them, sequencing all parts of the task (from how to enter, which aisles to go to, how to choose items, see prices, use the friendly checkout...).
  • We teach them how to use community resources such as Kzgunea, public centers that we go to every Monday to develop digital skills and safe Internet use.
  • Activities we do at home, such as our Friday cooking workshop where we make increasingly elaborate menus and thanks to which the people we accompany have become real culinary critics.

In short, activities of daily life that are those that mark the day to day of any person.

We are very aware that at any time the health problems that these people have in their daily lives we can have them in the future, we are taking note and learning to live in a different way, in a way that they have taught us. They have taught us to live from the accompaniment, from the here and now and trying to be better people every day.

We are lucky people, and as the motto of the world day says, let's not forget that .... tomorrow can be you.


Occupational therapist at the Petra Lekuona Residential Unit for People with Severe Mental Disorder. Matia Foundation

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • You may use [block:module=delta] tags to display the contents of block delta for module module.
  • You may use [view:name=display=args] tags to display views.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.