Philadelphia, PA, United States
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Mohatt N.V.,Yale University | Singer J.B.,Temple University | Matlin S.L.,Yale University | Golden J.,City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program | And 6 more authors.
American Journal of Community Psychology | Year: 2013

Suicide is a preventable public health problem and a leading cause of death in the United States. Despite recognized need for community-based strategies for suicide prevention, most suicide prevention programs focus on individual-level change. This article presents seven first person accounts of Finding the Light Within, a community mobilization initiative to reduce the stigma associated with suicide through public arts participation that took place in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 2011 through 2012. The stigma associated with suicide is a major challenge to suicide prevention, erecting social barriers to effective prevention and treatment and enhancing risk factors for people struggling with suicidal ideation and recovery after losing a loved one to suicide. This project engaged a large and diverse audience and built a new community around suicide prevention through participatory public art, including community design and production of a large public mural about suicide, storytelling and art workshops, and a storytelling website. We present this project as a model for how arts participation can address suicide on multiple fronts-from raising awareness and reducing stigma, to promoting community recovery, to providing healing for people and communities in need. © 2013 Society for Community Research and Action.


PubMed | Yale University and City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Journal of psychosocial rehabilitation and mental health | Year: 2015

The objective of this study is to identify individual mechanisms of change that result from engaging in an innovative participatory public art project for persons with significant behavioral health challenges. We present two case studies that examine how participatory public art promotes recovery and wellness. This research is part of a larger, multilevel comparative outcome trial on the impact of participatory public art on the health and well-being of adults in recovery from mental illness and addiction and on the distressed city neighborhoods in which they live. The case studies describe the unique ways in which participatory public art contributed to key recovery domains of growth in friendship, self-discovery, giving back, and hope. The two cases indicate that the development of a strengths-based sense of self through art was accompanied by a growth in personal social responsibility. The two cases also indicate that participatory public art may have a profound impact on the internalization of stigma. The findings support the value of participatory public art as a strategy for blending recovery and public health perspectives to promote both individual and community wellness.

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