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New exhibit at Bangor airport hopes to reduce mental health stigma

Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 4:47 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Reducing the stigma around mental health.

That’s what a new exhibit at the Bangor International Airport is hoping to do.

People traveling through the Bangor International Airport will now have a chance to read the stories of people all across the country who are living with a mental illness.

“I think its important that they know Mainers care about people’s mental health issues and that we normalize that, mental health concerns behavior health concerns are no different than a physical issue,” said Randall Liberty, Department of Corrections commissioner.

McLean Hospital along with Northern Light Acadia Hospital and NAMI-Maine unveiled the new exhibit Monday that can be seen throughout two locations at the airport.

“I think the first thing we do is see awareness. and we see someone that we can relate to, I’m really glad there are men up here because men especially, they don’t want to acknowledge that weakness, they don’t want to reach out and say, gosh, I’m hurting and I need help. So that balance of visibility is really vital,” said Greg Marley, NAMI Maine clinical director and director of Suicide Prevention.

Kara Hay, board chair of Northern Light Acadia Hospital, says the waitlist for people seeking mental health services has increased 1,000% since the start of the pandemic.

“The pandemic has been hard for all of us one of the silver linings of it has been that we’ve had a chance to really vocalize and express mental health challenges. My hope is that the time is now for our community to recognize that we need to stand up together to support anyone who is struggling,” said Hay.

Liberty is featured on the exhibit.

He says he wants people to know it’s honorable to stand up and admit that you need help.

(Randall Liberty / Commissioner, Department of Corrections)

“It’s important for me as a 40-year law enforcement officer to say to those other officers, you don’t have to suffer in silence,” said Liberty.

Hay says this is a great start, but prioritizing our mental health doesn’t stop here.

“I hope when people see these walls they stop and think, I know someone who has this situation, I should help them get help or this is me, I’m not alone. I hope that this is a message of hope, and inspiration and connection for anyone facing a mental health diagnoses,” said Hay.

For more information about the exhibit you can visit deconstructingstigma.org.

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