Mental Health Awareness: Nothing to Hide exhibit through May; reception May 31st (Updated)

Above: A gallery stretched across Southborough this month highlights the real and compelling stories of families and people struggling with mental health issues. It’s part of SYFS’ month long awareness campaign this year. (contributed photos from the Nothing to Hide exhibit)

Every year, Southborough Youth and Family Services works to combat misconceptions and stigma around Mental Health issues. They’re at it again this spring.

In past years, they’ve used Mental Health Awareness month to communicate with the community. This year, they are taking advantage of a special traveling exhibit, “Nothing to Hide”.

The exhibit, on display throughout Town this month, highlights compelling stories about people effected by mental health issues. It’s part of the Town’s efforts to encourage people with problems to bring them forward and get help, rather than hiding them in shame.

Photos and text are hanging in the Southborough’s Library, Town House, Arts Center/Recreation Building, Senior Center, and public schools, plus some churches and Middlesex Savings Bank. Click here for specifics.

The month-long campaign will be capped off by a reception and “gallery finale” at the Southborough Community House on Thursday, May 31st. The event will take place from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. It will include hors d’eouvres and live music. While free and open to the public, they will be encouraging $5 donations at the door with proceeds to benefit the Friends of the Southborough Youth Commission.

As always, SYFS encourages:

Need someone to talk to? Southbourough Youth & Family Services provides counseling services and referrals to all Southborugh residents. Northborough Youth and Family Services provides the same support to Northborough residents. You are not alone! Call Sarah at 508-4851-5676, ext 1

Now here are more details on the exhibit from SYFS:

Nothing to Hide flyer page 1Jaime Campbell is a young woman who has schizophrenia. “When I first got sick,” she says, “almost all of my friends gave up on me. One friend even called me a ‘schizoid’. I had been there for them when they needed me, but when I needed them, they were gone. For me, losing my friends is the saddest example of the stigma of mental illness.”

Jamie is one of many individuals who shares her story in NOTHING TO HIDE: Mental Illness In The Family, a touring photo-text display created by the award-winning Family Diversity Projects of Amherst, Massachusetts. It is scheduled to be displayed across Southborough throughout the month of May, coming together for a gallery finale featuring appetizers and live music May 31st at the Southborough Community House.

NOTHING TO HIDE provides people coping with mental illness and their families an opportunity to come out of the shadows and into the public eye. The compelling stories of children, siblings, parents, grandparents and extended family members demonstrate strength, courage, integrity, and accomplishment in the face of adversity and stigma. Mike Campbell, Jaime’s dad says, “Living with mental illness is a struggle and a real test of your faith, but getting through it provides that the human spirit can survive.”

Southborough Youth and Family Services will use this poignant art exhibit to help dispel the harmful stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about mental illness. “I’m excited to bring this exhibit to Southborough because it encourages open and honest conversations about mental health that don’t include shame,” says SYFS Director Sarah Cassell, “And while the exhibit talks about major diagnoses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, we want to make sure people are also talking about the more day-to-day things that affect our mental wellness, like stress and divorce. It’s not uncommon need to talk through things like that but often people are afraid to start the conversation.’

Nothing to Hide flyer page 2The exhibit will be displayed across Southborough. Photos will be displayed at the SYFS office, Recreation, the Southborough Public Library, the Southborough Police Department, Town House, St. Matthew’s Church, Pilgrim Congregational Church, St. Anne’s Church, Middlesex Savings Bank, and the Southborough Senior Center. All of the Southborough public schools, including Algonquin Regional, will participate as well. You can visit SYFS’s website at for a full list. [Editor’s Note: That list is posted to the right.]

It will then be brought together for a gallery finale on the evening of May 31st, from 7 to 8:30 pm at the Southborough Community House. It will also feature hors d’oeuvres and live music, as well as information tables about mental health. The event is free and open to the public with a suggested donation of $5 per person at the door. All proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Southborough Youth Commission.

The photos have traveled across the United States and SYFS is excited to be able to host the exhibit. Family Diversity Projects, Inc., the non-profit organization that created NOTHING TO HIDE, is based in Amherst, Massachusetts. Gigi Kaeser was the photographer, while the text from interviews conducted by Jean Beard and Peggy Gillespie. It is one of many traveling exhibits they have produced, all exploring nontraditional family structures and how love makes a family.

SYFS always encourages anyone looking for emotional support to call their office to learn about the resources available to Southborough town residents. Please call Sarah at (508) 481-5756, ext. 1.

Updated (5/22/18 8:29 am): Originally, I mistakenly posted that the actual Mental Health Awareness month is March, but SYFS apparently held off for this exhibit. But I was mistaken. May is Mental Health Awareness month.

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