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New Philadelphia mural celebrates recovery from addiction

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

Colorful images stretch over the walls of the JEVS methadone clinic in North Philadelphia. They tell stories of struggle and new beginnings, and were painted with the help of recovering addicts.

The mural is part of a partnership between the city’s Mural Arts program and the department of Behavioral Health. The goal is to draw people with mental health issues into a creative process, and to reduce stigma.

Jane Golden is director of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts program, she says the mural raises awareness of mental health issues:

Golden: We’re going to be using art as a tool to better access mental health services, and to try to eliminate the stigma when it comes to mental illness, addiction, and homelessness, and more broadly, trauma

During the mural dedication today, Dr, Arthur Evans, who heads the department of behavioral health said this partnership represents a new way of thinking about mental health treatments:

Attendees gather for the mural dedicationEvans: We can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results, and I think this project really shows that if we’re willing to be innovative, to get out of our boxes, we really can make a difference

Lois Skatemeri has been coming to the clinic for treatment for over a year, and says participating in the mural project was crucial in her recovery:

Skatemeri: A program like this is everything to somebody like me that wanted to do better for themselves, and now has created a pathway that I can follow to do better

The collaboration between mural arts and behavioral health will create 9 public art projects.

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