Millions of people experience mental illness in a given year.
From anxiety to bipolar disorder, from depression to schizophrenia, the National Alliance on Mental Illness puts the figure at about one in five adults in the U.S. — about 43.8 million people.
And when you consider their friends and co-workers, their partners, their kids and other loved ones, just about everyone is touched by mental illness in some way.
Yet, talking about mental illness and mental health can be taboo.
A new art exhibition opening Friday in Richland aims to change that. The inVisible art show aims to break down stigma and open up conversation about mental health.
“It’s impossible that there’s anyone walking around who’s not impacted (by mental health issues),” said Emily Richman, one of the show’s organizers. “If we had more conversations, there would be more opportunity to say, ‘You’re not alone.’”
An opening reception starts at 6 p.m. Friday at DrewBoy Creative gallery inside Confluent Space Tri-Cities, 285 Williams Blvd.
There’s no set admission fee, but a $4 donation is suggested. The event is family friendly and will include opening remarks and refreshments.
Richman, a performer and licensed mental health counselor associate, organized the show with DrewBoy founder Davin Diaz and board member John Roach.
Diaz said the topic “seemed timely, it seemed necessary.”
Like Richman and Roach, he said he’s blown away by the work produced for the show.
Made up largely of paintings and photographs, the exhibition will be on display at the gallery through June 3.
A dozen artists were asked to create pieces centered on mental health. They are: Bobi Wilson, Ayleen Wood, Maridy Roper, Madison Rosenbaum, Heather Willoughby, Jessica Vorheis, Kyle Cox, Quinton Maldonado, Denise Bowles, Jeremiah Griffith, Felicia Follum and Thelma Triplett.
Lourdes Health, NAMI Tri-Cities, Castle Event Catering and Joe Cruz are sponsoring the show.
A video booth will be set up, with attendees invited to share testimonials related to mental health. They’ll pieced together in a short documentary.
Richman, Diaz and Roach said the goal of inVisible is to provide information, break down negative stereotypes, build empathy and create a safe place for people to talk about mental health.
Art is an effective way to do that, Roach said.
“One of the best ways to dissolve barriers and allow those conversations to happen is through art,” he said, adding that “the art on the walls (in this show) is of the quality and caliber that can start these conversations.”
Talking about mental health is critically important — for the community and for individuals, he said.
“Sometimes all it takes is someone talking about their experience for someone else to speak about theirs. Speaking it out loud is a huge positive step toward change,” he said. “We’re creating space in the gallery for conversation, and (we hope) people will carry out with them an intentional, willful desire to create those same kinds of vulnerable spaces in their day-to-day life.”
More on DrewBoy Creative: drewboycreative.com.