echo interview with Roger Staub, Managing Director of the Pro Mente Sana Foundation
elipsLife echo: Pro Mente Sana was founded in 1978 as a Swiss foundation to support the interests of the mentally challenged. Can you briefly describe the foundation’s work?
Roger Staub: Since its inception, Pro Mente Sana has been committed to furthering the rights of people suffering mental stress. We advise and support those affected as well as their relatives and train lay people in first aid courses. In addition, we educate the wider population and increase their awareness of this topic.
Who uses the services Pro Mente Sana provides?
Mentally disadvantaged people visit us at our meeting place, Nordliecht. These are individuals living on the fringes of society. Our telephone counselling is open to all affected persons, their relatives and also professionals. Community social service professionals are also seeking our advice ever more frequently. The first aid courses are attended by those wanting to help the mentally unwell in their immediate environment. Our awareness campaign «How are you?» is aimed at the general population and resonates with young people especially.
How is your organisation structured?
Pro Mente Sana is a foundation. We work in a trialogue, that is to say, affected persons, relatives and specialists work together on an equal footing. In terms of financing, we work on behalf of the Federal Social Insurance Office (BSV). We advise and accompany mentally challenged people and also run our meeting place for them. In addition, we seek financing for our projects through fundraising and generate income with our own services such as lectures, seminars, workshops and the first aid courses. Money is an ongoing issue for us because the willingness to donate is low due to widespread prejudice.
Can you elaborate on that?
We often hear statements like «I'm not going to donate to crazy people». We’re fighting this attitude with lobbying activities and political education. We want to break the taboo of mental illness and help people talk openly about the subject.