Logan Airport Exhibit Aims to Smash the Stigma of Mental Illness

The new exhibit, "Deconstructing Stigma," showcases 34 people with mental illness.

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Deconstructing Stigma exhibit at Logan Airport/Photo provided

A new art exhibit, titled “Deconstructing Stigma,” is trying to change the public perception of mental illness. But this show isn’t gracing the walls of the MFA or the ICA—it officially debuts Friday at Logan Airport.

The exhibit, put on by McLean Hospital and several mental health organizations, features 34 photographs and quotes from individuals across the country, all of whom have been affected by mental illness and the stigmas that often come with it. Participants include New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall, Darryl McDaniels of RUN-D.M.C, musician Rick Springfield, a pair of sisters, parents who struggled to raise children while battling illness, and more. While some have spoken out before, many are telling their stories for the first time.

With powerful quotes and images, the exhibit aims to change the often-negative comments and conversations that come with a diagnosis. “I firmly believe that the more we talk about mental illness, the more we will reduce the stigma that surrounds it,” writes one participant, a 28-year-old woman named Maria.

The project’s companion website says 75 percent of those struggling with mental illness have reported experiencing stigma—anything from shame to blame to hopelessness—because of their conditions. That’s untrue of people with physical ailments, writes 28-year-old Clare in her profile.

“We have the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS and breast cancer awareness and the diabetes walk,” she writes. “You can post about those on social media, but if you say you’re mentally ill, people are like ‘What’s wrong with you?'”

“Deconstructing Stigma” hopes to change that. By exhibiting real people and their mental illnesses—conditions that 43.8 million adults experience each year—the campaign aims to change conversations, and hopefully change lives.

You can see the exhibit at Logan Airport, between terminals B and C. It does not yet have an end date.