Aiming to Boost Mental Health Awareness

McLean Hospital, Northern Light Acadia Hospital, NAMI-Maine & Bangor International Airport aim to boost mental health awareness

Inspirational photo exhibit shines a light on Mainers living with mental illness

Bangor, Maine—McLean Hospital,029A2098.jpg located just outside of Boston, Bangor International Airport (BGR), NAMI-Maine, and Northern Light Acadia Hospital are bringing an inspirational exhibit highlighting stories of people living with mental illness to Maine. The goal of the exhibit, which was formally unveiled on Monday, April 4, is to increase awareness and reduce the stigma that is too often associated with depression, anxiety, substance use, and other mental illnesses.

The Bangor exhibit is part ofAcadia employees at the unveiling ceremony Deconstructing Stigma: Changing Attitudes About Mental Health, McLean’s international mental health awareness campaign, featuring compelling portraits of courageous people who volunteer to share their stories with the hope of changing how people living with mental illness are viewed. Deconstructing Stigma initially launched in 2016 with a large installation at Boston Logan International Airport.  Since then, McLean has partnered with airports and other public venues worldwide to feature volunteers who share their stories about their experiences living with mental illness. The Bangor exhibit features several volunteers from Maine and was done in collaboration with Northern Light Acadia Hospital and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Maine.

“We are excited to bring Deconstructing Stigma to Maine and are grateful to the Bangor International Airport and our advocacy partners for supporting our efforts to heighten awareness and spark conversation about mental health,” said Scott O’Brien, director of Education Outreach for McLean Hospital. “Most of all, however, I want to express our deepest thanks to the volunteers of Deconstructing Stigma who have bravely shared their personal stories in hopes of helping others.”

The Strength of Storytelling

After witnessing a tragic event while at work, Ron began to struggle with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

“I’d start crying at bedtime, I’d start crying before I went to work. I’d explode at home and start yelling. I was in a hard spot emotionally,” explained Ron.

In time, Ron reached out for help, confiding in trusted colleagues. He was able to take time off from work, get treatment, and today is in a much better place.

Ron volunteered to be part of Deconstructing Stigma because he wants to encourage people who may be facing depression and PTSD to reach out for help. He also has a special plea for those who work in high-stress jobs to pay attention to their co-workers and look for signs of trouble.

“Stories like Ron’s are important to share because far too many people are afraid to speak up. Thankfully, Ron recognized he needed help and reached out,” said BGR Director Tony Caruso. “Thousands of people come through the airport each year. By providing space in our facility for Deconstructing Stigma, we hope Ron’s story and the others that now adorn our walls will raise awareness, provide support, and encourage our friends, family, and neighbors to seek help when they need it.”

McLean is honored to have local collaborators, including Northern Light Acadia Hospital and NAMI Maine. These two organizations are dedicated to providing mental health support to individuals and families throughout Maine.

“Acadia Hospital prides itself on maintaining strong partnerships to address the behavioral health needs of Maine people, and this is just the latest example,” said Scott Oxley, MBA, president, Northern Light Acadia Hospital and senior vice president, Northern Light Health. “We are tremendously proud to join forces with our colleagues at McLean Hospital, NAMI Maine, and our friends at Bangor International Airport to raise our voices in unison against stigma associated with mental health. We salute all of those featured on this moving display for courageously sharing their stories which hopefully inspire others to do the same.”

To learn more about mental health resources in Maine, visit the Deconstructing Stigma website.