BANGOR, Maine — Bangor International Airport aims to boost mental health awareness through a new partnership.
Two new wall exhibits are on display on the first and second floors of the building. It features portraits of people from across the country sharing personal stories about their mental health struggles.
McLean Hospital, based in Massachusetts, partnered with the airport, NAMI-Maine, and Northern Light Acadia Hospital to make this happen. Representatives from McLean Hospital created this campaign in 2016, and it has since expanded to locations throughout the world.
The goal is to reduce the stigma associated with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and substance use.
Adriana Bobinchock, chief of staff at McLean Hospital and co-founder of Deconstructing Stigma, said the first exhibit was created at Logan International Airport, and has since spread to Bangor, Vermont's airport in Burlington, and even Maine prisons.
"Nobody is alone in dealing with mental illness. We just need to talk more about it and recognize that it affects each one of us," Bobinchock said.
Among the many faces on the wall is Randall Liberty, commissioner for the Maine Department of Corrections. Liberty said he felt that as a leader, it was important for him to speak up.
"If Command Sgt. Major Liberty, Sheriff Liberty, Warden Liberty, now Commissioner Liberty can stand up and say, 'Hey, I've got some psychological issues. It's a natural response to the trauma I've been exposed to both in the military and in the civilian world,' ...you deserve to get help, as does your family deserve for you to get help," Liberty said.
"Just because you don't think that you know anybody that suffers from a mental illness, doesn't mean that you don't," Bobinchock said.
"Given the vast number of travelers that come through our terminal, and travel through Bangor, this is a great opportunity to continue to support that messaging," Tony Caruso, director of BGR, said.
Shellie Robinson, a customer service experience representative at the airport, sits directly in front of one of the displays at work each day.
"What better way to uplift somebody than to have positive words in front of you? Given the state of the world, everybody can relate to a mental health issue," Robinson said.
"Any of the burdens that we can share with each other, I think, lightens the load for all of us," Liberty said.
Anyone who would like to learn more about Deconstructing Stigma or to apply to share their story about mental health struggles for future exhibits can click here.