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NVRH and NKHS Present a Conversation on Mental Health

by | Feb 19, 2020 | In the News

JOHNSBURY, VT. (February 19, 2020) – Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital (NVRH) and Northeast Kingdom Human Services (NKHS) partnered with Boston-based artist Lynda Cutrell to bring The 99 Faces Project – an exhibit of 99 portraits, sculptures and paintings that destigmatize mental health – to the Northeast Kingdom. A Community-focused conversation on mental health as well as a closing reception for the exhibit will be held on Friday, March 6, 4 – 6 p.m. in NVRH’s Gray Gallery and NVRH conference rooms 126 and 127.

The symposium will highlight the importance of conversations around mental health, focusing on emergency crisis response and the collaboration of care among organizations such as NKHS, NVRH and police. Panelists include artist Lynda Cutrell, Northern Counties Health Care CEO Michael Costa, NKHS Director of Emergency Services Tonya Davis, NKHS Chief of Clinical Operations Marcia Stricker, NVRH Chief Medical Officer Michael Rousse, MD and St. Johnsbury Police Officer Daniele Kostruba.

The conversation, which will focus on particular topics as well as answer questions from attending community members, will be moderated by NVRH CEO Shawn Tester and NKHS CEO Tomasz Jankowski.

“Mental Health stigmas thrive in silence,” NVRH CEO Shawn Tester said. “That’s why it’s so important to talk with each other, as individuals and as community partners. This community discussion will allow us all a chance to do just that.”

According to NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness), one in five adults, or 43.8 million or 18.5 percent of Americans have a mental illness at any given time. Emergency teams recognize the prevalence of mental health issues in the community and work hard to support those who need help.

 “Mental health affects every single one of us, and the 99 Faces exhibit offers the perfect platform to open a conversation about mental health, wellness after diagnosis and the importance of connection in healing,” NKHS Director of Marketing, Development and Community Relations Lila Bennett said. “At NKHS, we are working hard to send the message to our community that it is okay to not be okay, and that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

This symposium will not only address mental health and the stigma around it, but it will also offer a space for multiple people to come together, engage, and hopefully learn more about the ways that collaborative crisis response reduces recurring emergency room visits, provides the proper and necessary support more quickly and, essentially, saves tax payer dollars.

“Mental health awareness is a community issue,” NKHS Emergency Services Supervisor Tonya Davis said. “At NKHS, we began providing education and training to our community partners as an effort to help provide a higher level of care to our clients. Collaboration with our community partners furthers this initiative.”  

The goal of The 99 Faces Project exhibit is to inform, on a scientific basis, about our mental health, challenging how individuals living with mental illness are seen by others, and showcase the healing power of love and acceptance. Cutrell created this exhibit after she learned of a family member’s schizophrenia diagnosis.

“Every person experiences varying levels of physical health, and also varying levels of mental health,” artist Lynda Cutrell said. “We all experience depression and anxiety at some point in our lives, while others may have more chronic experiences including mania or psychosis. Recognizing that symptoms are a complexly human experience helps us accept treatment and the experience in our community. My exhibit displays 99 individuals that have achieved recovery, despite the most chronic of symptoms. They are champions that inspire us.”

“Visitors have traveled to see this show,” Art Gallery Curator Jen Layn said. “One individual emailed me and said ‘This is one of the most progressive exhibits on mental health I’ve seen.’ They also said that ‘It should be seen by many.’ We have really enjoyed hosting this show, and hope that our friends and community members will join us for this closing reception.”

The 99 Faces Project (99facesproject.com) exhibit is striking and powerful. This is the largest art exhibit to visit NVRH. For more information or to see some of the art, visit www.99facesproject.com.

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