More than 20 years ago, a psychology student doing his training at one of Argentina's oldest psychiatric wards kept being asked by his family and friends what it was like to work in there. So he came up with an idea: to let the patients explain in their own words.

On a "regular" radio station there are things that you can and can't say - because the medium has its filters. At La Colifata there aren't any - this is where the benefit lies - you can say what you think or what you feel and others will always listen and respect you.

Gustavo Salgado, listener

The first radio station to broadcast from inside a mental hospital was born. Radio La Colifata - slang for loon, crazy person, has been on air from Hospital Jose Borda in Buenos Aires every Saturday afternoon for 23 years - to confront the stigma around mental illness, breaking through the wall in AM, FM and now online.

In-patients produce and present the shows that range from politics to sports - and over the years, millions of Argentinians have been tuning in.

Today, the radio frequencies have reached further, with around 50 stations based on the Radio Colifata model in Latin America, Europe and Asia - and soon, it will be setting up outside the asylum, hosted by former patients.

The radio was never intended as a serious journalistic enterprise per se. But the voices it includes, the things that are said, the way the stories are told are enough to make anyone in the mainstream world of journalism stop, listen and think about how their own voices are repressed, censored and sedated - and how truth lies beyond what has been institutionally prescribed.

The Listening Post's Marcela Pizarro went to Buenos Aires, to hear what the Colifatos had to say.

Source: Al Jazeera