By Kyira Hauer
Over time and through the Build It Together initiative, NAMI Wisconsin has worked to become an increasingly more inclusive and culturally competent organization. In these efforts, we found that truly building bridges and establishing ourselves as a trusted organization within different cultural groups takes time and a curiosity to get to know other organizations and people.
When the idea of honoring National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was raised, we wanted to come up with a fun and engaging activity for a variety of cultural groups. Our idea was a flash mob—Diversity in Motion. What better way to bring people together and spread awareness about minority mental health than to have a giant dance party on the capital square in downtown Madison in front of thousands of people?
“I joined the flash mob because…there’s a lot of discrimination and stereotypes about those who have mental illness. People need to know that people with mental illness are just like everyone else, and they have their own hopes and dreams,” said a Diversity in Motion dancer.
Over 50 people, wearing bright green shirts, have danced in the flash mobs in the last two years. Alongside the dancers, people handed out flyers, engaged with the audience and filmed the experience to share on social media. Each year, the fun flash mob dances bring new faces to the NAMI family and get the message into the community that talking about mental health isn’t scary. We can all come together to support mental health because it affects us all somehow.
Are you looking for a new way to engage your community in a conversation about mental health? Why not join us and try a flash mob in your community? Here are some tips to get started:
Feel free to contact us for more information about how to get started or to hear more about our experience at [email protected] or 608-268-6000.
Kyira Hauer has worked as the associate director at NAMI Wisconsin for two and a half years. A graduate student in counseling psychology, Kyira is interested in both the clinical and community sides of supporting someone struggling with a mental health issue. She hopes to combine her non-profit work with her clinical practice over time.
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