Radio La Colifata - BBC World Service

How is a radio station in an Argentinian psychiatric hospital changing the way people view mental illness? Radio La Colifata - slang for loon, or crazy person - airs from Hospital Jose Borda in Buenos Aires every Saturday afternoon. In-patients produce and present the shows, discussing everything from Argentinean politics and the economy to their own mental health and treatment.

Millions of Argentinians tune in and interact with the show as it goes out live, encouraging a dialogue between the La Colifata team and the outside world which otherwise might not happen. Founder and psychologist Alfredo Olivera says, “La Colifata represents a broken space forgotten by others.” The impact of Alfredo’s seemingly simple innovation cannot be underestimated.

The programme doesn’t model itself on a traditional radio show. Their goal is not to filter voices but to provide a platform for them to be heard, regardless of how challenging or unconventional they may be. For example, one contributor reflected on a period of intense anxiety and psychosis when she began to rethink the concept of walking on two legs. This opened up a philosophical discussion on the nature of physical movement.

By allowing these conversations to happen and for others to be able to listen, Radio La Colifata is changing the dialogue around mental health, encouraging others to start rethinking their approach.

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