New Uruguay mental health mission

Portrait shot of Mechi Tarragona

“My dream is for us to see and minister to people who ask, seek and knock; and journey with them as they find, receive and enter a full life.” – Mechi Tarragona


In Uruguay, local partner Mechi Tarragona is pioneering a new mental health centre, NLight, which offers a Christian approach to mental health – a radical idea in Uruguay’s highly secularised society.

When Mechi moved from Argentina to Uruguay a few years ago, she was struck by the incredibly high suicide rate.

At the time, it was the highest in Latin America, and for Mechi, this was the nudge she needed to think about offering a Christian approach to mental health in this context.

Mechi wanted to work in preventive care, addressing this high suicide rate at the root, as well as address mental health in general. As Mechi’s faith is foundational to every aspect of her life, she wanted everything about NLight to build on that same foundation.

In a society marked by secularism, a mental health centre built on a Christian foundation is definitely unusual and has great potential to challenge people’s assumptions about faith in Jesus.

Building on experience

Mechi already understood the value of a Christian approach to mental health. She first saw a need more than a decade ago when she was living in Argentina.

She began to put together a team of psychologists who could come alongside people and help them explore various tools for self-knowledge and personal development.

Built on a Christian foundation, their services were available to Christians and non-Christians alike.

Getting practical

The NLight project started up in Uruguay earlier this year. Wanting to help people transform specific areas of their lives and be able to explore faith in new ways, the team offers courses and workshops, one-to-one sessions and group therapy.

Earlier this year, NLight ran workshops on forgiveness, self-esteem, managing your emotions and the power of the spoken word. The team are currently developing new courses for 2021, including on personal fulfilment and dream interpretation.

The centre’s one-to-one sessions allow Mechi and the team to tend to individuals’ specific needs and accompany them on their personal journey.

During the pandemic, as the team have been unable to meet with clients in person, they have offered one-to-one virtual meetings free of charge.

Their group therapy sessions, which take place outdoors, offer an environment where people can talk about illness, death and resurrection as well as forgiveness, soul ties, love in its different expressions and the pursuit of abundant life.

Reaching for the dream

Mechi and the team’s dream is to have their own building by 2021, with indoor space for workshops and one-to-one sessions, and outdoor space for some of their group work.

They are currently forming the team who will be running these activities online and in person next year. Initially, they hope to employ two full-time staff members as well as a team of volunteers.

Though they’ve only just got started, Mechi believes God is already at work through this project. She sees God at work in people who providentially emerge as collaborators and as people of peace.

She sees the staff team’s part as working with dedication and at the same time being attentive to what the Lord shows them each day.

“My dream is for us to see and minister to people who ask, seek and knock; and journey with them as they find, receive and enter a full life.”

Published 22 September 2020
Region
Latin America

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