The NAACP Boston Branch is collaborating with McLean Hospital to help expand the reach of McLean’s award-winning public awareness campaign, Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life, within communities of color. Through this effort, we hope to bring a message of resilience, hope, and education to Boston’s communities of color.
What is Stigma?
It is not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, and anxious at some point in their lives. All too often, people do not seek help for these common and highly treatable symptoms because they are fearful of being judged by friends, family, or health care providers. Some may even feel that by seeking help, they are weak or “crazy.” That is the negative power of stigma. Stigma prevents people from getting the help they need.
What is Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life?
Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life is a series of larger-than-life photographs and interviews with people from across the United States who have been affected by mental illness. Its initial physical installation opened in December 2016 at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
The installation, the website, and the companion book serve to capture the complexity of living with a psychiatric disorder, seeking treatment, navigating insurance and health care systems, and facing stigma.
Told through the eyes of its participants, the campaign boldly tears down the misconceptions of what those with mental illness look like. The volunteers in this project are more than just statistics or nameless faces. They are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, lawyers, doctors, engineers, musicians, and more. Each one has been affected by mental illness, and each one has also faced stigma.
The project was developed by McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, in partnership with American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, International OCD Foundation, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and PROJECT 375.
Why Is the NAACP Boston Branch Participating in This Campaign?
Physical and mental wellness are important for strong families and strong communities. Members of communities of color are more likely to care for their physical well-being than their mental well-being, but without strong mental health, they cannot be healthy. Unfortunately, the statistics within communities of color tell a disturbing story:
- Black people are 20% more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population
- Only about 25% of Black people seek mental health care, compared to 40% of White people
There are many reasons for these startling statistics, including a lack of understanding and awareness, limited access to care, fear, and misconceptions. Through this collaboration, we hope to provide members of our communities of color with the information and resources that will help them successfully manage their mental health.
How Can You Help?
Volunteer your story and be part of changing perceptions! If you live with substance use or mental health challenges, McLean Hospital wants to hear from you! We are looking for individuals and families of all ages to be photographed and have their story shared publicly. Let’s work together to show others in our community that they are not struggling alone. #yourmindisyourbusiness
To volunteer, email [email protected].