MindScapes Art Exhibit Aims to Reduce Mental Health Stigma
Mindscapes, an exhibit of artwork created by Pittsburgh brain researchers and people who have experienced mental illness, was held at The Image Box as part of the Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn monthly art crawl.
Drs. Lizzie Manning and Micah Shelton, researchers from the Translational Neuroscience Program (working with Dr. Susanne Ahmari and Dr. Ryan Logan, respectively), held the event during national Mental Illness Awareness Week to reduce misconceptions and stigma surrounding mental health. Artwork by the researchers and patients were displayed side by side to improve the community's understanding of both the scientific basis and lived experience of mental illness.
Drs. Manning and Shelton wanted to do something beyond their research that could have a more immediate impact on the lives of people suffering from mental illness. Dr. Manning became familiar with the positive impact artwork has on students while working with the Development and Experience (DAX) Center during her graduate studies in Melbourne, Australia. Dr. Shelton had seen pieces from WPIC's art therapy programs and realized these works could have a broader impact if displayed to the wider community. In addition, fighting misconception and stigma around mental health is a passion they share, as they both have siblings who suffer from mental illnesses.
Thanks to generous support from a number of area research departments including the department of Psychiatry, scientific artwork was sold at the event and raised $1,200 for the Persad Center, a local organization that provides mental health support to the LGBTQ community.
Drs. Manning and Shelton plan to make Mindscapes an annual event and continue to raise money for local community-based mental health service providers that support vulnerable populations.