Psychologist Sandra Fagundes, one of the most prominent names in the anti-asylum struggle in Rio Grande do Sul, was awarded the Farroupilha Medal of Merit this Wednesday (6th). The ceremony took place in the Júlio de Castilhos Hall of the Legislative Assembly and brought together mental health activists and fellow activists of the honoree in the struggle for psychiatric reform for over 30 years. The initiative was taken by deputy Stela Farias (PT).
Sandra Fagundes is a psychoanalyst and has a master’s degree in Education from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS). She was State Secretary of Health in 2014 and Municipal Secretary in Porto Alegre from 2003 to 2004 and from Viamão from 1998 to 2002. She is the founder of the Gaucho Metal Health Forum, the National Movement for the Anti-Asylum Struggle and the Inter Núcleos Network.
According to Stela, the psychologist is a reference in public management that has provided many municipalities with the inclusion of mental health in primary care. “Talking about it is talking about the anti-asylum struggle that resulted in the psychiatric reform in Rio Grande do Sul and served as a basis for the entire country. It is also about talking about the Gaucho Mental Health Forum that fights for the human rights of people in psychological distress”, she declared.
The president of the Legislative Assembly, Valdeci Oliveira (PT), who was mayor of Santa Maria, recalled that the honoree collaborated with the implementation of mental health care in the municipality. “Always willing to discuss, collaborate and make her knowledge available to everyone. Sandra has the audacity to share the learning”, he emphasized.
Valdeci believes that the pandemic increased the psychological and emotional problems of the Brazilian population, as it did with hunger and misery. He took the opportunity to make a call for everyone to engage in actions, “even if they are conjunctural”, to alleviate the suffering of those who are going through difficulties.
“This tribute opens the eyes of many about the moment of extreme difficulties we have been through. We cannot think that it is natural to go hungry. We have to be outraged and take actions, even if conjunctural, to placate this tragedy,” he urged.
When thanking the award, Sandra said that the medal is the result of a collective work of decades. She spoke about the importance of art in order to “transcend and open new paths” and the need to build a Republic capable of reviewing injustices and removing Indians, quilombolas and vulnerable segments of the population from invisibility.
“We need to defend diversity. We don’t have a world of just one color, just one gender, just one social class. We need to think about that in order to open ourselves to a future where all life is worth and worth it,” he declared.
The group Nau da Liberdade, an artistic collective from Porto Alegre formed by SUS mental health users, closed the event with a presentation.
* With information from the Legislative Assembly of RS
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Editing: Marcelo Ferreira