The Volkswagen with flowers of the 60s, which traveled America “coast to coast” with their load of freedom, peace and utopias. This is often thought of in front of a camper. To put your whole life on four wheels and leave for who knows where. But there are those who, on the other hand, use the camper not to leave but to arrive. get anywhere, by patients to be available to help them. A white camper that roams the squares, the markets and the historic center, with its gaudy sign, a warm ocher, orange and red rainbow and under the inscription “Psychologist on the road – Come on, we can listen to you here“. This is an experimental initiative carried out by StudioPsiche Firenze, coordinated by Professor Maurizio Cinquini with Dr. Camilla Niccolai, the psychotherapist and psychologist Clarissa Chiti and the doctor and psychotherapist Patrizia Gentile, financed by the Municipality of Figline and Incisa Valdarno, with a fund around 10,000 euros. Five sessions head, totally freeon this mobile workstation to be aware of one’s own problems and at the same time of oneself.
Normalize going against the stigma
“This project wants normalize access to psychological support, for too long the prerogative only of those who could afford it – he explains the commissioner youth culture and policies Dario Picchioni -. Is having an extraordinary responsea sign that the Administrations must first move in the direction of free and universal access to this service and raise awareness to break down the social stigma which too often accompanies those who turn to professionals in the psychological field”. “In Italy they are still there many resistances towards the psychologist, a figure associated with serious mental health problems and who instead is an opportunity to trigger that small change in one’s daily life that can lead to surprising results – Dr. Cinquini points out instead -. It is necessary to integrate the figure of the psychologist into the social fabric of our country, it already happens in Anglo-Saxon countries, as happens with the general practitioner we turn to to solve small difficulties or prevent them”.
What is changing: the bonus and the basic psychologist
It wasn’t just citizens who resisted before the listening ear of a professional, often replying: “I’m not crazy, I can do it by myself“, but also the institutions that have focused only on basic medical services and psychiatric assistance, leaving the care of mental well-being in the background. Today they seem to be more receptive, the basic psychologist (which is already by law in Tuscany) and the psychologist bonus which has already had a large number of requests prove it, but the attempts are too timid and the funds allocated are still too few . “It took the pandemic and social isolation to highlight ours need for comparison with an external figure and not just with a friend or family member to solve adaptation problems”. The isolation and the impossibility of communicating live have aggravated situations already present with serious depressive crises and often serious episodes of suicide”. According to estimates by the Italian Federation of Pediatricians, i attempts of suicide among young people aged 9 to 17 increased by 75% in the last two years, on average one per day. “Psychologist on the road” also recorded a large turnout of adolescents and elementary school children, as well as users over the age of 76. In fact, the very young and the elderly are the categories most psychologically affected by the pandemic.
All of them have already won this one personal battle against stigma. “As prevention is done by going to a dentist to see if there is a cavity, it is important, in this somewhat deranged society, to go to a professional to see if there is any problem within us. It seems that the psychologist is a sorcerer and whoever turns to him is a madman, but you have to try it to believe it”.
From free radios to campers, innovation against conventions
Doctor Cinquini’s experience has some points in common with flowered Volkswagens: the desire to ride the utopia to explore new horizons and innovate. A psychologist and psychotherapist, often outside the borders of an already drawn career. A degree in Education Sciences and even one in Communication Sciences, his youth as a speaker in the midst of the whirlwind of free radios (RDF, Lady Radio, Radio Fantasy, etc.) in 2017 he began teaching at the UniTre of Piombino but not only . A long experience in Trenitalia where, in addition to providing psychological support to employees, you contributed to the creation of a driving simulator for trains. The birth of StudioPsyche is a novelty in the Florentine panorama: not only psychotherapy, sexology or support groups but also digital psychology, school psychology and themed psycho-aperitifs, where people talk about exploring numerous topics.
“Psychologist on the road” is a project that exploded in his hands and landed in Figline and Incisa after knocking on several municipalities. Closed doors have never discouraged him, in fact the project is preparing to cross the Tuscan borders. Innovate at all costseven against the clock, has a price worth paying.
Patients, stories that break distances
Michele (invented name) is over 60 years old. He can’t sit still: politics, volunteering, theatre. The soul of a volcano behind a smile and playful eyes. “Are we live yet?!” he exclaims amazed in front of the tape recorder. He came across the initiative by chance and immediately found it tantalizing. For some time, for various reasons, he had been sleeping badly and every morning he woke up more tired than when he had gone to bed. “Mine is a minimalistic problem but treating it is essential for health”. There psyche is tricky terrain on which the shadow of depression often stands out.
Fatima (invented name) is one 30-year-old foreign girl with three children. She arrived in Italy at the age of 17 and at 18 she had her first child. She is now a housewife, but she has studied and has always been busy. The weight of responsibilities made it grow suddenly: “Now I’m thirty but I feel like I’m sixty” he says laughing. Then the disease, an autoimmune disease that is not dangerous but which affected her on the aesthetic side, becoming the center of her life and depriving her of self-confidence. Her depression took away the strength to do anything but she was never able to tell anyone about it. “I didn’t feel understood, they told me that if nothing hurt me physically I shouldn’t worry. When you talk and they don’t give you importance, then you prefer to keep quiet”. But Fatima didn’t give up, she refused to take any pills and she got involved: “In the first session I talked about things that I had never been able to express”.
Often, for depression to appear in our lives, the simple is enough monotony. It happened to Robert (invented name). After retirement he found himself faced with only sofa and TV six days a week. “I went into depression and couldn’t sleep at night, I was always nervous when I never was before.” With the therapy he has found the strength to return to the field and has now started to volunteer. “Everyone can have need help, at any time, who for work or sentimental problems. We could be down for thousands of reasons, but before closing in on ourselves we should talk about it with family, friends and precisely with a psychologist”.
Not just a psychologist, but precisely an old friend which meets every week. This impression is obtained when the door of the camper opens wide and the psychologist greets the patient with a smile, to whom he often gives a hug capable of crossing any wall in which pain is walled up. Walls with flowers and, at the back, a panel with a drawing by Tex Willer that reminds us how the our unconscious is a wild land all to be explored, on board a camper instead of a caravan like those of the pioneers. Sessions often end with meditation, a few minutes dedicated entirely to oneself in which thoughts become leaves on a river floating towards the sea.
In any studio, in front of the stairs leading to the top floors or the lift that never seems to arrive, one would be tempted to go back but not in front of a camper. The camper, just like the old Volkswagen with flowers from the 60s, is a symbol of freedom and unbridgeable distances, like the one between professional and patient, which suddenly dissolve.