Amber and Miranda went on an internship to various mental health facilities in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
We questioned whether these localised mental health issues should be medicalised and/or medicated or whether they are a normal response to an acute stressor. These circumstantial experiences refer to the violence experienced, such as family members lost due to gun violence, on a daily basis by Brazilian citizens.
On our days off, we were privileged to experience the attractions that Rio de Janeiro has to offer. This included Christ the Redeemer, one of the seven wonders of the world, which was amazing to see on a clear morning. We also took a cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain, which we found to be the quietest place in Rio! One of the students from the seminars at the university offered to show us the local beaches, including the famous Copacabana Beach. We also spent many hours on Flamengo and Ipanema beaches.
In view of the recent election of President Bolsonaro, who is vehemently anti-LGBT rights, we reflect on our time in the gay capital of Latin America in a different light. As members of the LGBT community ourselves, we felt safe at the time to explore the LGBT scene in Rio and be open about our sexuality. However, if we were applying next year we may be more hesitant about our safety.
We found this experience to be invaluable in enriching our skills as researchers. The opportunity to gain access to mental healthcare on the ground – sitting in on mental health consultations and therapy groups was particularly important in broadening our experience in this field. This brought our class readings to life, now being able to read about Brazil with a lived experience of its culture and everyday life.
Having the opportunity to engage with postgraduate seminars at the university enhanced our critical thinking skills. Having academic discussions with postgraduate students and PhD candidates was a wonderful opportunity to challenge our understanding of how mental healthcare should be delivered.
In summary, we are incredibly grateful to our Department here at King's for this opportunity and to those that were so welcoming to us in Rio. Particular thanks go to our translator, Thais, who stood in at the last minute when we thought our limited language skills may bring the internship to a premature ending and a swift flight home.