Oscar Fernàndez is Director of the employment service of Nostra Senyora de Meritxell School (Escola Especialitzada Nostra Senyora de Meritxell), president of the Association of Professional Psychologists of Andorra, member of the Federation of photographers of Andorra, member of the Copyright society of Andorra (SDADV), composer, and father of three kids. He spoke with all-andorra.com about the main causes of psychological disorders and treatment methods used in medicine in Andorra:
Please tell us about EENSM School: how many people are there? What types of problems do they have? How many teachers do work at school?
EENSM Special School is a private non-profit organization that does not receive any money. The school offers programs for people with disabilities at all stages in their lives.
The main objective of the EENSM is to promote the quality of life of persons with disabilities, obtain full development, self-determination and the promotion of individual independence based on respect for their dignity, rights and preferences. The school also offers psychological work with parents or guardians to increase the effectiveness of their participation in educational work.
At the organizational level, the school aims for transparent management, improvement of quality and services, as well as ethical and honest conduct.
At the social level, the school helps people with disabilities to search for work, cooperates with their families, and works with groups of organizations to strengthen their social conscience.
Currently, there are 480 people with disabilities who work and receive treatment at the school, both children and adults. More than 200 specialists work with them – teachers, observers, psychologists, speech therapists, physiotherapists, etc.
The EENSM is at the service of the disabled on the basis of the relevant conclusions of the National Commission of the Ministry of Justice, Social Affairs and the Interior of Andorra (CONAVA). Persons requiring special attention may also visit the EENSM on the basis of relevant requests from relevant ministries or agreements with other institutions and organizations in Andorra.
What program is proposed for people with intellectual disabilities?
The employment service at EENSM can guarantee access to employment for people with disabilities in the most secure environments (closed professional workshops) or in environments with normal conditions.
The main objectives are: to train and promote integration in society and to monitor to ensure stability in the workplace.
We are also engaged in the labor market research, by looking for new jobs, and we are also attracting new businesses to employ people with disabilities. Well, again, we provide psychological help and support to family members, which is also very important.
Our service works on the employment of 16 year olds with intellectual disabilities and sensory deficits, as well as neurological and musculoskeletal disorders and mental disorders system. Currently, our team employs 30 professionals.
What is the main mission of psychologists? How exactly do you work with people with disabilities, and their families?
A psychologist is an expert on the intelligence and behavior of an individual with professional clinical knowledge and skills that can assist in the learning process and in addressing mental health issues.
The main task of psychology is as follows; guidance and counseling people with emotional and social conflicts, diagnosis of psychological disorders and developing a treatment to modify or eliminate these conflicts.
Psychologists can help all types of patients and get rid of many problems. In principle, the role of the psychologist is to eliminate the causes of the suffering of another person, as well as teaching and solving various problems of daily life. For example, eliminating depression or conflicts in a family, facilitating teenage communication and help them to find a common language with their peers in a more social and less aggressive way, etc.
With the help of special tests, psychologists can get more information about a person and his behavior. The tests assess the intellectual and human professional capacity, strengths and weaknesses, personal characteristics, neuropsychological functioning and establish the diagnosis of mental disorders.
Psychologists can also help overcome stressful situations, addictions, control the emotions associated with chronic illnesses, change behavior and overcome obstacles that interfere with the achievement of goals.
Normally, medication is not a part of psychological treatment, although with the psychiatrist’s relevant recommendation, it is possible to combine both types of therapy.
Psychological treatment can be done individually, as well as for couples, families or groups of people. The consultation may be just one session, or there can be several ones (for example, in crisis situations). These sessions can last several years (in the case of psychoanalysis). The number of sessions depends on the type of problem and the severity.
What is the Association of Professional Psychologists of Andorra? How common are psychologists’ consultations in Andorra? What are the most frequently addressed issues?
The Association of Professional Psychologists of Andorra is the regulatory body responsible for ensuring the quality of professional interventions in the practice of psychologists and protecting the interests of patients. The activities of the association are based on legal and ethical values.
To identify the most common psychological disorders, we can consult the data provided by World Mental Health Surveys. This data includes information from 28 countries around the world. The most common mental disorders in the world are:
Anxiety disorders (PT) are mental disorders associated with the presence of anxiety, fears not associated with certain objects or situations that do not disappear over time and interfere with normal daily life. They are often accompanied by constant nervousness, tremors, and muscle tension. There are several types of them, including general anxiety, specific phobia, social disorders, and fear of separation. It is estimated that the prevalence of anxiety disorders in the world is about 11%, although this data varies considerably from one region to another. In western developed countries, this disorder occurs most often.
In addition, there are also mood disorders: this category of mental disorders includes problems associated with emotional states, like depression or mania that affect a person’s life both at family level and social level. These disorders can be of several types: general depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia (chronic depression), premenstrual dysphoric disorder and seasonal affective disorder. Mood disruption issues are found in one in ten people worldwide. The most extreme consequence of depression is suicide, approximately 800,000 lives are lost worldwide each year.
There are also psychoses of childhood and adolescence. This disease decreases with age. It is characterized by an inability to control behavior according to social norms due to a lack of respect for expectations of building relationships with parents, teachers or peers. People with such a disorder tend to be negative, impulsive, irritable and even aggressive. It is estimated that about 4% to 6% of the population suffers from these types of disorders.
World Mental Health Surveys studies show that the most common individual psychological problems are specific phobias accompanied by prolonged depression.
What treatment methods and technologies are now considered to be the most modern?
For example, EMDR (desensitization and reprocessing of eye movement) is a method of psychotherapy designed to treat post-traumatic stress disorder caused by experiences such as violence, participation in hostilities etc. The eye movement helps to synchronize the rhythms of the cerebral hemispheres. And eye movements from side to side cause alternating and synchronized activation of the hemispheres. Natural self-regulation processes are restored and the brain completes its work independently.
How much does the services of a psychologist in Andorra cost?
Currently, a session of a psychologist in Andorra costs 50 to 60 euros. The Association of Psychologists is negotiating with the ministry of Health of Andorra to guarantee a partial reimbursement of this cost to the detriment of the grant from the Principality’s Public Health System. This will improve the quality of the health system and bring more attention to the mental health problems of the population. Although this problem has not solved yet.
To date, we have reached an agreement that, starting in 2019, the health system will cover 75% of the costs. However, this will not affect all patients.
How many members are there at the Association of psychologists of Andorra? Is there a special license needed to provide psychologist services?
Currently, there are about 120 psychologists in Andorra who are members of the association.
To work as a psychologist in Andorra, you must have an official degree in psychology and obtain permission from the Government of Andorra by applying to the Register of Health-related Professions issuing permission to practice related activities.
Consultations in Andorra are available in Catalan, Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.
Does Andorra use marijuana as a “psychotropic” medicine, like some countries in the world, including Europe do?
As far as I know, some “special” medicaments are used in Andorra only as an anesthetic. These are opiates (morphine). As for marijuana, in my opinion, under the supervision of specialists and at certain doses, it can and should be used to help relax or sleep. But you have to be very careful. Use of marijuana in big quantities contributes to the development of schizophrenia.