Hospitality and mental health


By: Dr. José Carlos Palacios Montoya

Coordinator of the degree in psychology

Ibero Tijuana 




Regarding mental health, hospitality is a central theme, being well received, cared for, and treated with dignity. It can even be said that we live in times when radical hospitality is required. Sometimes we are afraid of radicalism, but sometimes it is also necessary to play hard while being careful. Radical hospitality is a way of treating mental health that has already had very interesting results around the world, starting with Trieste in Italy and recently in Los Angeles ( It is nothing new, it is almost a fundamental law of humanity, to welcome those who travel, those who lack food, the roof a place for a toilet, to soothe the pain and wounds of the trip, and give the traveler the best that we have.


Until now it has been thought that mental health is a matter of individuals, with “wrong” thoughts or behaviors, being “sick”. This has led to labeling whoever is on the street as seeing things that no one else sees as a criminal. It is not a crime to fall into hallucination or delirium, but torture and ill-treatment over many years can lead a person to develop these conditions. Likewise, those who consume substances to depart from reality, or those who move from one territory to another to live more peacefully, are criminalized. Radical hospitality involves understanding how dehumanization in dealings can lead to disorganization of thought and behavior. On the other hand,


It is a priority to provide essential care conditions: shelter, food, cleanliness. Added to this spaces of listening, of accompaniment, this generates and sustains mental health, not positive thoughts, being absurdly optimistic. Another thing is that we have a hospitable attitude with ourselves and with others. Procure us food, shelter and cleanliness, ask for it, recognize them as goods that we cannot give up, goods that can be shared and cannot be denied to anyone. Mental health is recognizing in ourselves the dignity that is inherent to us, the right to be, do and feel in the world that every sentient being has.


Dehumanization, on the other hand, does not only affect those who move from one territory to another, by dehumanizing others we dehumanize ourselves. It is important to ask ourselves about the degree of anesthesia with which we need to live to see the other side while there are people throughout the border area looking for the essentials. An interesting proposal to explore is to change the commitment to psychiatric drugs, for the commitment in favor of dignified treatment, for hospitality, to medicalize less, to care more. Radical hospitality implies not giving what is indispensable, but the best we have, what we would like to receive being in the other’s condition.

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