Events across the state encourage people to speak up about mental illness
“Life With a Mental Illness” is the theme of this year’s Mental Health Month, highlighting the importance of speaking up, sharing stories, and decreasing the stigma of mental illness.
Mental Health Month first began 67 years ago to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of good mental health for everyone. This year’s theme is a call to action to share what life with a mental illness feels like to someone going through it.
“We have to tell our stories,” said Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) commissioner Emily Piper. “Telling people how life with a mental illness feels helps build support from friends and family, reduces stigma and discrimination, and is crucial to recovery.”
To recognize Mental Health Month and help bring attention to the experiences of people with mental illness, DHS is sponsoring two awareness events. First, Vail Place, will be offering a special noontime show, Recovery Theater: A Rare and Revealing Look at Mental Illness. Through a variety of scenes, monologues, poetry, song, and dance, Vail Place members—adults with serious mental illnesses–reveal the often devastating challenges of living with a mental illness, as well as the healing and recovery that is possible with understanding and support. The show is free and open to the public, Wednesday, May 11, 2016, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Great American History Theatre, 30 East 10th Street, St. Paul.
Second, “Changing Minds: Work by Patients at St. Peter’s Regional Treatment Center” will be on display at the Arts Center of Saint Peter from May 13 to June 12. The exhibition coincides with the 150th anniversary of the opening of the St. Peter Regional Treatment Center. Selected works of art from the treatment center’s permanent collection are also on display, showcasing the history of Minnesota’s first and oldest state hospital. The public is invited to attend the opening reception on Friday, May 13, 5-7 p.m. at the Arts Center.
In addition to raising awareness of the personal costs of mental illness, mental health month is a reminder of the gaps that need to be filled. This year, Gov. Mark Dayton has proposed a $177.3 investment to improve care and treatment across the state.
“People with mental illness need high-quality services that promote recovery, and we certainly have high quality services in our state,” Piper said. “But the simple fact is, we need more—more capacity, more services in more areas of Minnesota. We need to get rid of the bottlenecks in the system, and to make sure people have the right level of care to meet their needs.”