The Nise da Silveira Municipal Institute is highly reputed in Brazil. In this psychiatric hospital mental health day care patients take part in the Rio Carnival where they put into practice the art therapy activities proposed throughout the year. 

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Going against tradition

The Institute, located in Engenho de Dentro, a poor neighbourhood in the north of Rio, is a long-standing forerunner in innovative mental health care thanks to psychiatrist Nise da Silveira, for whom the hospital, formerly the Pedro II Psychiatric Center, is named. 

In the 40s Dr da Silveira refused to administer certain aggressive medical treatments such as lobotomy and electroshock therapy and began to introduce her patients to art therapy.

Now, care is offered in the Psychosocial Health Centre (CAPS), a forward-thinking mental healthcare unit, where art therapy plays a very important role, especially when it comes to preparing for an unmissable event in Brazil – the Rio de Janeiro Carnival!

Promoting inclusion through art therapy

Loucura suburbana”, or “the madness of the suburbs” in English, is the name of the procession which brings together patients, their families, carers, and residents, during the famous carnival. The procession begins in the hospital before winding through streets in the local neighbourhood.

“Bring out your madness!”, Carnival goers are told. This instruction ensures the event’s fun atmosphere. People bring out their madness by dancing (the famous samba), playing music with drums as the main instruments, and wearing extremely creative multi-coloured and sequinned costumes made from a host of different fabrics. 

Each participant has their place and plays their role, like a natural communion which links the patients to the rest of the party goers. In this festive setting, diversity and inclusion are the watchwords of this wonderful initiative.

Article updated on 12/10/22