Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MHealthy photo exhibit addresses mental illness and family

The National Institute of Health reports that one in four adults — approximately 57.7 million Americans — will experience a mental health disorder in a given year, and one in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, major depression or bipolar disorder.

The McDowells, whose son is affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder, is one of the families featured in the NOTHING TO HIDE: Mental Illness in the Family photo-text exhibit displayed at Hatcher Graduate Library now through June 28. (Photo by Gigi Kaeser, Family Diversity Projects)

May is National Mental Health Month, and in support the MHealthy Understanding U program is sponsoring the photo-text exhibition “NOTHING TO HIDE: Mental Illness in the Family,” featured at the Hatcher Graduate Library through June 28.

A portion of the exhibit also will be on display at the UM-Flint employee health fair in the Harding Mott University Center from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. today, and at UM-Dearborn in the Administration Building, Fairlane Center South, and University Center throughout the month of June.

NOTHING TO HIDE includes 20 photographs and text from interviews with individuals and their families whose lives have been affected by schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, major depression and other serious brain disorders.

“This exhibition speaks to the resiliency of the human spirit,” says Kathleen Robertson, director of U-M Health System Employee Assistance Program (UMHS EAP). “These photos compassionately illustrate who we are and provide us an opportunity to openly and candidly dialogue about mental health issues.”

“This exhibit does an excellent job in showing the diversity of those affected by mental illness — young and old, male and female, and from every background and culture,” says Tom Waldecker, director of the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FASAP). “The stories of children, siblings, parents, grandparents and extended family members are very compelling and demonstrate strength, dignity, courage and accomplishment in the face of adversity.”

NOTHING TO HIDE was created by Amherst, Mass.-based Family Diversity Projects, an award-winning nonprofit devoted to educating the public about issues related to the diversity of family life. Photographs were taken by co-founder Gigi Kaeser. Exhibit text is taken from interviews conducted by co-founder Peggy Gillespie and Jean Beard.

Other mental health resources always are available to university faculty and staff. The MHealthy Understanding U program offers confidential online screenings for common mental health conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, alcohol misuse, eating disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder. To take an online mental health screening, go to www.mhealthy.umich.edu/understandingu.

For no-cost confidential short-term counseling, campus and Flint employees can contact FASAP at 734-936-8660 or e-mail fasap@umich.edu. UMHS employees can contact UMHS EAP at 734-763-5409 or e-mail eap@umich.edu. Dearborn employees can call 313-593-5430.

NOTHING TO HIDE is on display in the Hatcher Graduate Library north lobby exhibit cases (just inside the main entrance off the Diag, 913 South University Ave.).