COLUMBIA — The Art of Being ME exhibit, presented by the Burrell Foundation in collaboration with artist Randy Bacon, opened to the public on Friday.
“This exhibit provides an opportunity to show the community that mental illness is not a particular demographic. And it’s not a particular socio-economic status,” said Mathew Gass, president of Burrell Central Region.
The exhibit features the stories of more than 20 Burrell Behavioral Health clients and staff who have faced personal mental health issues. Stephens College alumnus Shelby Thompson took part in the project – sharing her story of attempted suicide and depression.
“It’s important to me, because I’ve struggled all my life with [mental illness]”, said Thompson. “And, I know how important it could be for someone my age to go through what I was going through, just to understand that there is an opportunity for help.
They hope the exhibit will reduce the stigma of mental illness by sparking community conversations that raise awareness of the issue.
“It’s really about letting everyone else know that they’re not alone with their mental illness and everyone is struggling with something,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the project gave them a new perspective on mental health.
“It really got me thinking, we all have a similar story,” Thompson said. “We are all struggling with something. You may think it’s small [or] insignificant, but it’s not because it’s part of you. And, you are you and you have to take care of yourself.
Gass said he wanted the exhibit to spark conversations about how mental health is approached.
“I want us to think about the future,” Gass said. “How do we support this community? [How do we] use stories and people like Shelby to inspire us and prepare us for conversations with friends, family or colleagues who may be going through a mental health crisis? »
The free exhibition takes place at the Stephens College Mezzanine Fashion Gallery in the Lela Raney Wood room. It is open until the end of September from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
If you need immediate mental health support, dial 9-8-8 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.