Loulé based mental health association at risk of closure

AN ORGANISATION in Loulé that provides support for mental health patients may shortly be forced to close due to lack of funding.

The Associação de Doentes Mentais, Famílias e Amigos do Algarve (UNIR), based in Loulé, is an association that currently provides support for 23 mental health patients, their families and friends. Sadly, now, after three years without any funding from the State, the institution is at risk of closure.

UNIR has been functioning for one year as an Instituição Particular de Solidariedade Social (IPSS), an official charitable institution, but, despite holding this status, no subsidies have been forthcoming. “To date, we have not seen the benefits of operating as an IPSS, a status which implies an agreement with the Social Security. We received a promise from the previous president of the Centro Regional de Segurança Social do Algarve (CRSSA) that we would sign an agreement in July,” reveals the association’s director, Margarida Trinidade.

However, following the visit of two representatives, UNIR was informed that it did not meet the conditions for the facility to function as an occupational social centre. “It was a shock because the agreement would not only provide funding to purchase materials needed, but would also guarantee the money to pay our staff,” commented the director. “It is incomprehensible to those looking in from the outside how we have continued, month after month, for three years, without receiving salaries.”

Sadly, due to the desperate situation, Margarida Trinidade has lost hope and it has been reported that she will be resigning from her position this month. The rest of the team must hold the fort until the beginning of next year.

Those patients currently supported by the association are mainly sufferers of schizophrenia. They are encouraged to participate in a range of activities, many of which are creative tasks to help them discover their vocations.

Besides UNIR, the Algarve only has one other institution that specifically offers support to mental health patients – Associação de Saúde Mental do Algarve (ASMAL) in Faro.