On Saturday, January 27, 2018, seven of our Teen Speakers and six Families for Depression Awareness volunteers and staff visited the Many Faces of Our Mental Health Exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science. Much like our Teen Speaker Program, this moving exhibit showcased personal stories in an effort to break down harmful stigma associated with mental illness. Alongside individual and family stories and portraits of people affected by mental health conditions, works of art reflected up-to-date scientific information. We talked with our Teen Speakers to learn what this experience meant to them.
As Rachel, age 18, looked around, she shared, “the whole exhibit, it’s just my two favorite things: science and art.” She looked closer at a wall of paintings and after taking some time to appreciate them Rachel found a deeper meaning. “I really like the one with all the different skin tones. When I was first looking at it, I didn’t know what it was. Then I looked at it closer. It shows that people of color experience mental illness but do not get as much access to services and treatment.”
Similar to Rachel, Nikki, age 14, found that “I especially like the color scheme with all the different skin tones, I think that was my favorite piece of art. It’s really nice and educational.” Through the art, our Teen Speakers learned about disparities in mental health treatment and the need for change.
Alyssa, age 24, found that the artwork “puts everything into perspective.” Alyssa observed the portraits of 99 individuals, which include people with mental health diagnoses and their loved ones. It stood out to Alyssa that mental health is not necessarily defined by a diagnosis. Even caregivers and loved ones need to focus on maintaining their wellness. “It says on the wall that you wouldn’t know by looking at these people who are the caregivers, the people that have a diagnosis, or what kind of disorder they have.”
There are so many aspects of mental health that are not noticeable to the eye. Sierra, age 17, pointed out a piece of art that looked like microscopic slides. “It shows you all things that people don’t necessarily think about with mental illness, like the cell breakdown. I like how the people’s stories and the science aspects are brought together in one room and show that we are all regular people, but something can be going on under the surface.”
Elizabeth, age 22, felt that viewing the exhibit as a group provided more meaning to the experience. “It’s important that the teens are together. We can talk about the exhibit and our thoughts. Someone might think of something that someone else hadn’t thought of. I feel like if we went individually it wouldn’t have sparked as many thoughts for me.”
As the teens wrapped up their time together, Max, age 17, related the exhibit to her experience as a Teen Speaker. “I feel like the exhibit wouldn’t have come together as well without the stories. The stories just make it, otherwise it’s just faces on the wall. This way it’s intimate, you feel like you’re actually talking to the person. The fact that they are willing to put their story out there. Not just to let us hear it, but to let us into the most intimate time of their lives, I thought that was really important.”
As Max looked around the exhibit, she shared one final thought. “I believe in our program even more now just because the way the stories in this exhibit affected me being here today.”
- If you are interested in exploring the exhibit, make your way there before February 11, 2018! Remember, many Massachusetts libraries can provide a pass for reduced-cost museum tickets.
- Want to bring a piece of the experience to your Massachusetts community? Invite our Teen Speakers to talk with your youth about identifying depression, asking for help, and managing wellness.
- Become a teen speaker and join our social gatherings! Check our Teen Speaker page and sign up today.