Our Night of HOPE at Raw Art Works in Lynn last Thursday evening was amazing! Congratulations to everyone in the HOPE (Helping Other People Endure) Group for pulling off this inspiring evening where they screened a bunch of short films and then hosted a panel discussion about mental health, in front of an audience of 150+!! We couldn’t be prouder! They did an outstanding job fielding questions about mental illness, strategies to respond to a peer in crisis, and how they found the strength to talk about their struggles and resiliency! We also had 15 youth serving community organizations attend and distribute information about the resources available to young people and their families in Lynn.
The Night for HOPE was the culminating event of a six month project titled “There is Help & There is Hope: Promoting Mental Health Awareness through Art”. Back in the summer of 2017, The NAN Project was awarded a grant from the North Shore Community Health Network to improve mental health awareness and reduce stigma among youth, their families and the greater Lynn community. We have been collaborating on this project with Raw Art Works (RAW), a Lynn based organization that provides therapy through art for at risk youth. Together we applied a peer-to-peer model where young people use their lived experience to open up the conversation around mental health and educate the community about locally available resources.
This group, which became HOPE, began in September after we identified a group of peer leaders within RAW that were interested in educating their community about mental health. The 10 young adults went through a 4 day Peer Mentor training that covered the risks, signs and proper response to a peer or loved one who may be struggling with their mental health or feeling suicidal. The training then focused on helping the peers develop their Comeback Stories, which detail the mental health challenges that they and their families have faced, and how they found the supports and hope to persevere.
HOPE met on a weekly basis, to share and refine their Comeback Stories, create art that promotes dialogue around mental health, and to prepare for the mental health fair. You can see some of the art in the attached pictures, including posters made using the printing press with inspiring messages and figurines promoting awareness.
The Night for HOPE at the end of the project on January 25 was a huge success, with attendance of over 150 young people, there families and community supporters. We enjoyed inspiring art, good conversation and each others company. Congrats to all at RAW for the amazing night.
Thank you to all the community based youth serving organizations who took part in the health fair that followed the presentation, including Massachusetts Department of Children & Families – Regional Office, DMF, Children’s Friend & Family Services Society, Nagly, The Artful Life counseling center & studio, La House, The Safe Project, YWCA North Shore Rape Crisis Center, Eliot Mobile Crisis Team, Haven Project, The Food Project, Lynn Community Health Center & their School Based Teams, and Lahey Health Behavioral Services!
You can also see some of the videos we screened by following THIS LINK.