Mural addresses stigma of mental illness

    Bright colors, flowers and vines symbolize hope for recovery from mental illness in a mural dedicated yesterday at the Maria de los Santos Health Center in North Philadelphia.

    Bright colors, flowers and vines symbolize hope for recovery from mental illness in a mural dedicated yesterday at the Maria de los Santos Health Center in North Philadelphia.

    Listen:
    [audio: 091006msmural.mp3]

    Mural Artist Cesar Viveros and Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program.
    Mural Artist Cesar Viveros and Jane Golden, Executive Director of the Mural Arts Program. Click to see more images of the mural.

    Located at the busy intersection of Fourth and Allegheny, the mural shows people of all ages seeking and receiving mental health care. Stigma is a big problem in this neighborhood, says mural artist Cesar Viveros, and people have been reluctant to use the center’s behavioral health services. He hopes the mural will help reduce people’s distrust and shame:

    Viveros: They feel that trust to come, to get close to be open, because the more open we are, the more help we can get, and that’s what this center is about. The symbolism there represents the efforts of different people helping other people, and trusting is the biggest message that we want to promote, that people can trust doctors, they can trust the system, and the system is helping.

    Jane Golden directs the city’s mural arts program, she says murals like this get many community members involved, and for people struggling with mental health issues, the creative process can be a healing force:

    Golden: A lot of what we do is we give people, stakeholders, kids, who have historically felt invisible a voice, and that’s what is so important. It’s a lot about dealing with stigma and overcoming trauma in one’s life

    Dr. Arthur Evans, who heads the city’s Department of Behavioral health, says murals are a great way to start a dialogue on mental health and recovery.

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