On Friday, December 9, McLean Hospital formally opened the Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life exhibit with a gala celebration at Boston Logan International Airport. The exhibit is part of our overarching Deconstructing Stigma mental health awareness and anti-stigma campaign, which is expected to reach several million people.
Most of the participants in the Deconstructing Stigma campaign were able to attend—along with family, friends, and clinical staff who have supported them—including our keynote speaker, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, founding member of the legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC. Darryl stirred the crowd with a powerful, impassioned speech.
“This initiative is going to heal,” said DMC. “This initiative is going to empower. This initiative is going to change people’s lives.”
“When people see these stories, they’re not going to be afraid. As soon as they see them, it’s going to stick with them. And they’re not going to be afraid to reach out to a person that they know is going through something.”
“We stand before you here today as proof that it’s going to be okay. And we will beat and defeat everything that we’re battling and struggling against.”
Thomas P. Glynn, CEO of Massport; Marylou Sudders, MSW, secretary for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services; and Scott L. Rauch, MD, president and psychiatrist in chief also spoke at the event.
“Whether you are in the gallery here at Logan or on our website DeconstructingStigma.org, you are vital to challenging the stigma of mental illness,” said Rauch. “Because of you, together, we are influencing how people perceive these conditions. Your courage and candor in driving the fight against mental health discrimination is inspirational.”
The campaign includes musicians and librarians, fashion designers and fitness instructors, actors, athletes and artists, moms, dads, sisters and brothers—all of whom volunteered for the campaign and all of whom have all been affected by mental illness and its stigma—who are brought together in a beautiful and compelling new photographic exhibit that debuted Friday, December 9 at Logan International Airport in Boston. The 235-foot gallery is located between Terminals B and C, and plans are already underway to install similar exhibits at other airports. For those who won’t be traveling through Boston in the near future, the participants’ photos and stories can be seen on the campaign’s website, DeconstructingStigma.org.
Seeing the photos at Logan for the first time turned out to be a very emotional and rewarding experience for the participants, including New York Times best-selling author Luanne Rice.
“Thank you for including me in this amazing, important project,” said Luanne. “I knew it would be a good one, but I had no idea that it would be such an overwhelmingly great one. Seeing the photos—their incredible quality and sensitivity—and reading the text, all larger than life, was so powerful I still haven’t absorbed the experience.”
She was also happy to have her McLean treatment team there to support her.
“Thank you for inviting my wonderful, loving team from Proctor 2,” she said. “I would not be alive or as okay as I am without them, without McLean.”
In addition to the Logan exhibit seeing more than 1,000 visitors a day, the campaign has also garnered intense media attention, with the Boston Globe, New York Times, National Public Radio, and the San Francisco Chronicle including it in their coverage. To date, more than 3,000 media outlets nationwide have done stories about the McLean campaign. Social media has also played an important role, with the campaign receiving more than 1 million impressions on Twitter in the first five days after launch. In the week following the official launch of the multimodal campaign, more than 100 people have volunteered to be part of the next phase of the campaign.
In addition to partnering with Logan Airport, McLean Hospital collaborated with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the International OCD Foundation, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and PROJECT 375 to develop Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life.