“Our emotional well-being has a huge impact on the people we love.”

Agifes recently held a meeting in Irun aimed at analyzing the needs of Bidosota families who live with people with mental health problems. In that talk, the Gipuzkoan Association presented the findings of a study carried out by Salud Mental Euskadi in the region, revealing some data that reflects the reality of many households in the region: in fact, according to Eustat data, There are 9,175 households in Bidasoledia inhabited by people who have or have had some mental health problem.

“We are in a time when there is a lot of talk about mental health,” Agiface psychologist Iker Arrizabalaga said during the meeting. There has been a “significant increase” in these types of problems since the pandemic. “It is clear that there has been an increased focus on behavioral or emotional disorders.” Arrizabalaga recalled the importance of addressing this problem “from different points of view.”

Caregivers Profile

In the case of Agiface, its work focuses on providing support to families of people who have mental health problems. 80% of participants in the study conducted by Salud Mental Euskadi worked as caregivers, who “take charge of or constantly monitor” the person suffering from a disorder. Of those surveyed, “four in ten are undergoing psychological or medicinal treatment, and half require special care on at least some occasions as a result of the emotional impact of caring responsibility.” Six in ten said the situation had affected their family relationships, and three in ten had experienced breakups and separations in families. Leisure time and social relationships were significantly reduced for most caregivers, “especially for women and family members living with those affected.” Regarding the profile of those who perform this work, 80% are over 50 years old, “and it is mostly women, and especially mothers, who carry out the care.”

In short, the care of the illness, in addition to the “financial expense” in many cases, also implies sacrifices in different areas: work, training, social… The work of Agiface and associations dedicated to the care of families is of particular relevance. To improve this situation: According to the study, “nine out of ten people are satisfied with the support they receive from unions.”

In his speech, Iker Arrizabalaga stressed the importance of “having space for support” in the family. “Emotional well-being has a huge impact on the people we love.” Within the framework of the study carried out by Salud Mental Euskadi, a series of proposals for improvement are included, such as, for example, moving towards “a model in which the family is included in the therapeutic process”.

A place for mutual cooperation

Esme, a member of the Agifs support group that meets “more or less” every two weeks at Espacio Palmeira Monteiro, also attended the meeting, and in which “we are all women.” In these meetings we learn, we value each other and support each other. We have a lot to say and a lot to understand. Especially in the first moments when a family faces a situation where one of its members has a mental health problem, “we feel lost.” In support groups “Agifes provide us with a lot of information about the resources we have, our rights and duties.” Furthermore, he asserted, “What is said in the group, stays in the group.”

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