The Campaign

Deconstructing Stigma: A Change in Thought Can Change a Life is a series of larger-than-life photographs and interviews with people from across the United States who have been affected by mental illness. Its initial physical installation opened in December 2016 at Boston’s Logan International Airport.

Deconstructing Stigma physical display at Logan Airport
The physical installation of Deconstructing Stigma, viewable now at Boston’s Logan Airport.

The installation, this website, and the companion book serve to capture the complexity of living with a psychiatric disorder, seeking treatment, navigating insurance and healthcare systems, and facing stigma.

Told through the eyes of its participants, Deconstructing Stigma boldly tears down the misconceptions of what those with mental illness look like. The volunteers in this project are more than just statistics or nameless faces. They are mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, lawyers, doctors, engineers, musicians, and more. Each one has been affected by mental illness, and each one has also faced stigma.

Stigma—it’s an ugly word, and it’s even uglier to experience. Yet 75 percent of people with mental illness say they have endured the pain of stigma. Despite the concerns of being labeled and risking further stigma, the volunteers in this project are courageously sharing their stories of hope and resilience so that you will have an opportunity to “walk in their shoes” and perhaps step away with a different view of what it is like to have a mental illness.

1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness in his or her lifetime. It is something that affects us all-if you are struggling with symptoms of an illness, or if you feel like no one would understand what you’re experiencing, this campaign is for you. You are not alone.

This project was developed by McLean Hospital, the largest psychiatric affiliate of Harvard Medical School, in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the International OCD Foundation, Massachusetts Association for Mental Health, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and PROJECT 375.

Together, we are deconstructing stigma, and together, we are changing lives.