Grant money connects mural arts and mental health

    Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program has received a $500,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The money will be used to engage people with mental health issues in public art making.

    Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program has received a $500,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The money will be used to engage people with mental health issues in public art making.

    It’s called “The Porchlight Initiative” and it will engage people receiving mental health services in nine public art projects in North Philadelphia neighborhoods. Mural Arts staff will work closely with the city’s department of behavioral health, as well as mental health providers. Jane Golden, executive director of the mural arts program, says public art projects help people struggling with issues like mental illness and addictions:

    Golden:
    the whole idea behind the behavioral health work is to help people feel better about themselves, to reconnect them with their families, with their loved ones and mural painting and community public art work endeavors are engaging and can connect people it’s also to connect the provider agency and the community, because there’s often a stigma there

    Bill is a 46 year old Philadelphian who has helped paint a mural at a Philadelphia addiction clinic. He says the work gave him a different focus as he went through treatment:

    Bill: It took the problems away I would paint on the wall and just everything seems to… you know you’re thinking about the painting so I’m not thinking about my life, and myself, and whenever I do that I seem to be doing a lot better

    The Porchlight Initiative is one of ten recipients of a Robert Wood Johnson grant – chosen from close to 200 applicants. More than 1,000 individuals of all ages are expected to participate in the nine planned projects over the next four years.

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