With a focus on supporting the local community, including those who struggle with mental health and substance use disorders themselves or in their families, Burlington International Airport (BTV) welcomed McLean to develop a Vermont-focused Deconstructing Stigma exhibit.
In a hands-on collaboration, McLean and BTV worked together to create the first-of-its-kind display that is visible to all visitors to the airport who travel through the more-than-100-foot walkway between the parking garage and the airport.
How Did McLean Meet BTV?
After reading the Boston Globe story about the Deconstructing Stigma collaboration with Logan Airport, Ashley, who had recently lost her brother Ian to suicide, felt compelled to call McLean and ask the hospital to forge a similar partnership with BTV.
That one phone call resulted in a unique collaboration between McLean’s Deconstructing Stigma team and BTV.
Changing Attitudes About Mental Health
Among the people profiled in the exhibit, which spans the length of a walkway that sees hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, is Tian, a social worker and student who believes that being part of a supportive community provides the strength and encouragement that is needed for someone who lives with a mental illness to thrive.
“I strongly believe in community, and even though treatment is what got me out of the hospital and back into the real world, my community is what allows me to stay, experience, and grow in it,” said Tian.
Tian chose to share her story at BTV because she wants other people to know that there is no shame in admitting you need help.
Tian is not alone in this thought.
Each of the volunteers from Vermont and beyond shares their story to encourage others to seek care and to know they are not alone. Though each person is unique, and their story is personal, the experiences of coping with mental illness and stigma are similar. The goal of Deconstructing Stigma is to share the individual voices and by doing so, highlight the commonality that all of us share—mental health affects everyone.