New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Program: Arts in Health
Area of Work: Arts
Grant Purpose: NYC Mural Arts Project
The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) uses an 8-month collaborative mural-making process to raise awareness of mental health and break down stigma by sparking community discussions in New York City’s neighborhoods with disparities in health and other social determinants.
Through the New York City Mural Arts Project (NYCMAP), DOHMH collaborates with community members-at-large, individuals living with mental illness, community-based mental health service providers, certified peer specialists, and professional mural artists. Together, the partners translate the conversations into a mental health themed mural that reflects the diversity and strength of everyone involved in the mural-making process. The Fund for Public Health in New York City serves as the fiscal partner.
Purpose: To support development of an impact evaluation tool and a Facilitation Guide for certified peer specialists and mural artists to guide the process and activities, including engagement events and workshops.
The NYC Mural Arts Program aims to destigmatize mental illness, while enhancing the physical environment in New York City’s communities. The program addresses the stigma associated with mental illness through four primary strategies:
- Create opportunities for community members to engage in conversations about mental illness.
- Learn directly from individuals with lived experience.
- Gain an understanding of the neighborhood factors that influence mental health.
- Increase public awareness for mental health service providers within the community.
Each mural entails 20-25 community engagement events, workshops, planning meetings, and open studios. The process takes a whole year from selection of mental health service provider partners and muralists to the actual mural installation. Murals have been implemented in the Bronx, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Mental health Provider organizations have included Acacia Network, Services for the UnderServed, Fountain House, Community Access, VIP Community Services, Baltic Street AEH and Venture House.
The Facilitation Guide is used by all community partners and artists for NYCMAP activities in order to improve the quality and consistency of the activities and continuous improvement of the program and is used to conduct impact assessments. The evaluation tool is implemented at every community engagement event.
Since the rollout of the Guide, significant improvement has been observed during these discussion sessions, measured by the increase in:
- Number of questions about mental illness
- Type of questions about mental illness
- Disclosure of personal experiences living with a mental illness and recovery
- Interest by program participants with mental illness to become employed as peer specialists with mental illness to educate their community about mental illness
- Interest by community members to identify mental health service resources to help friends and family.
An evaluation found that, of people who participated in the community engagement workshops:
- 65% had a positive change in their stigma towards people with mental illness and
- 58% showed an increase in mental health awareness and education.
Banner photo: mural by Tova Snyder and VIP Community Services
Grantee page photo: mural by Aaron Lazansky-Olivas and Acacia Network