The voice of the unheard
di Cristina Barbetta
Radio Nikosia is the first Spanish radio produced by people diagnosed with mental illness
The city of Barcelona hosts the first radio programme in Spain entirely produced by people who have a diagnosis of mental illness. Born in 2003, Radio Nikosia is participated by more than 40 people in psychiatric treatment, and “speaks about madness from the voice of who suffers from it”. It is both a radio programme and a participant in various radio programmes in Barcelona and is produced with the collaboration of anthropologists, artists and journalists.
The aim of the project is to create a free and autonomous channel of communication, in order to fight against the stigma surrounding mental suffering. Using the radio as means of expression and social visibility, the project also brings welfare to people who suffer from mental disorder. Though Nikosia is not a therapeutic space in itself and operates beyond the limits of the mental health care system, it heals by giving people suffering from mental illness the opportunity to express themselves and actively participate in society.
The project is coordinated by the Association Cultural Radio Nikosia, a nonprofit organization that fights against prejudices suffered by people with mental problems and is supported by a large number of personalities. Among them, world famous singer and activist Manu Chao.
“Radio libre, mentes libres” (Free radio, free minds) is the label of the project: Radio Nikosia is free because it is open to the participation of all the community, that can be actively involved. It also frees minds as it gives a space for the narrative and self-narrative of diagnosed persons, who are generally denied and de-legitimized, it empowers them, giving them confidence and making them socially active subjects.
Besides using the radio as means of expression, intervention and social visibility, Radio Nikosia performs all types of cultural projects (such as art, poetry, literature, photography) that favor active inclusion, creativity and personal expression of people with mental suffering.