A key to living well with any disability is to not be burdened with fear of stigma, but rather to have loving acceptance and inspiring role models.Lynda Michaud Cutrell
Approximately one in five adults in the United States experiences some form of mental illness, most of whom do so without ever showing signs of their illness to others. The 99 Faces Project: Portraits Without Labels,” designed by Boston-based visual artist Lynda Michaud Cutrell, seeks to break down the stigma associated with mental illness and to encourage those on their path to recovery, as well as their families.
Using art as the vehicle, this unique art exhibit will make its New Hampshire debut at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center on April 1 and includes photographs, videos, paintings and sculptures to challenge commonly held assumptions about what living with mental illness looks like, by presenting true-to-life images.
“A key to living well with any disability is to not be burdened with fear of stigma, but rather to have loving acceptance and inspiring role models,” said Cutrell. “The Many Faces of Our Mental Health Project hopes to encourage those who are on their path to recovery, as well as their families.”
The compelling images are unlabeled and feature 33 people on the bipolar spectrum, 33 suffering from schizophrenia, and 33 people who love and support them. Each image is presented anonymously to reinforce that symptoms don’t define the person. The portraits are diverse, ranging from three years old to individuals in their 90s, and includes individuals from virtually every walk of life.
Dartmouth-Hitchcock is already deeply involved in efforts to address the mental health crisis, and to “change the conversation” about mental health issues. That work is led by D-H Senior Director of Public Affairs and former Chief Justice for the New Hampshire Supreme Court, John Broderick, who for the past two-and-a-half years has been visiting schools in northern New England, urging students to end the stigma surrounding mental health.
“For real culture change to happen, and for transformative conversation to begin, we all need to know what mental illness looks like,” says Broderick. “The 99 Faces Project shows us that mental illness spans all aspects of our society. Hopefully, 99 Faces will also help us open our hearts, change our minds and, at long last, no longer tolerate the shame and stigma that have kept too many people and families suffering alone and afraid for way too long.”
The 99 Faces Project is brought to Dartmouth-Hitchcock by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Arts Program and has already inspired conversation and action with public programs planned for the six-month installation including events for “Veterans and Mental Health” in May and “Law Enforcement and Mental Health” in June.
“Our arts program has grown to include creative artists visiting with our patients to facilitate their journey and playing a key role in our holistic approach to healthcare,” said Marianne Barthel, director of the DHMC Arts Program. “The arts program’s next step in growth is to utilize the arts as a platform for having deeper conversations about key health care issues facing our communities, The 99 Faces Project fits perfectly into our objectives and I’m proud that we are the first hospital in the United States to host the exhibit.”
The exhibit is free and is open for public viewing during regular hospital hours. To learn more about this exhibit, please visit D-H.org/arts/99-faces.html
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health (D-HH), New Hampshire’s only academic health system and the state’s largest private employer, serves a population of 1.9 million across northern New England. D-H provides access to more than 1,800 providers in almost every area of medicine, delivering care at its flagship hospital, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. DHMC was named in 2019 as the #1 hospital in New Hampshire by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized for high performance in 13 clinical specialties and procedures. Dartmouth-Hitchcock also includes the Norris Cotton Cancer Center, one of only 51 NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the nation; the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, the state’s only children’s hospital; affiliated member hospitals in Lebanon, Keene, and New London, NH, and Windsor, VT, and Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire; and 24 Dartmouth-Hitchcock clinics that provide ambulatory services across New Hampshire and Vermont. The D-H system trains nearly 400 residents and fellows annually, and performs world-class research, in partnership with the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and the White River Junction VA Medical Center in White River Junction, VT.