For one in four Americans, mental illness - like any physical disease or disorder - is a part of every day life. But individuals of varying ethnicities, genders and backgrounds, struggle with more than the symptoms of their disorders on a daily basis. They also deal with the unfounded, widespread stigma that characterizes individuals with mental illness as unstable, violent or dangerous.
The UNC Charlotte College of Health and Human Services Department of Social Work - in collaboration with the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health, Mental Health Association of Central Carolinas, Person Centered Partnerships’ Bridges program, and Occasio, Inc. - seek to help reduce that stigma in the Charlotte region with The Art of Recovery, a free, community event to feature artwork created by individuals who have been diagnosed with mental illness.
The exhibit will be on display from 3:30 - 6:30 PM, March 21, in UNC Charlotte Center City building, located at 320 9th St., Charlotte. The work, provided by local artists and the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health’s "Brushes with Life: Art, Artists, and Mental Illness" art exhibit celebrates the diversity of people. Brief, interactive videos placed throughout the exhibit will further educate attendees about the stigma associated with mental illness, the power of art as an aspect of their recovery, and other mental health-related issues.
The Art of Recovery event will include a free, public reception with light refreshments beginning at 3:30 PM. Students, faculty members and community partners will have the opportunity to meet some of the exhibit’s artists and view a documentary film by filmmaker Philip Brubaker from 4:30 - 5:00 PM. A brief discussion with the filmmaker will take place from 5:00 - 5:30 PM. A second screening of the film will take place at 5:30 PM. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the artists and enjoy refreshments after the initial screening.
Brubaker’s film, "Brushes with Life,” was nominated for a 2009 VOICE Award and received an honorable mention. The Voice Awards recognize mental health leaders and advocates who raise awareness and understanding of mental health issues, and work to include mental health patients in everyday, social life.
Sue Marchetti, coordinator of field education and lecturer in the Department of Social Work, said the exhibit, reception and screening are to help participants and the campus community better understand that mental illness is only one aspect of a person’s life and personality.
"It’s very important that people in the Charlotte community recognize mental health as a form of diversity," Marchetti said. "Through The Art of Recovery and personal interaction with the exhibit’s artists, we hope to bridge the social gap between patients with mental illness and the general public by highlighting the biases, discrimination and stereotypes that mentally ill individuals often face."
The event is funded by a grant from the UNC Charlotte Chancellor’s Diversity Fund. The Chancellor’s Diversity Fund supports faculty, staff and student programs that promote the importance of diversity in intellectual life on UNC Charlotte’s campus.
The event is free; registration is required.