The Fort Collins Museum of Discovery (FCMoD) debuted a new special exhibit designed to bring awareness to a topic that touches our lives each day.
Mental Health: Mind Matters, presented by Larimer County Behavioral Health Services, will use unique hands-on interactives and immersive multimedia activities to give visitors of all ages a memorable, impactful experience exploring mental health and its prevalence and impact in society.
It will also provide a safe space to have important conversations about a subject that some see as taboo. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 18% of American adults live with mental illness. The key to building better lives for those who live with mental illness is threefold: we must understand that mental illnesses affect nearly one in five people, they can affect anyone, and they are treatable.
Mental Health: Mind Matters will build understanding and awareness by giving visitors the opportunity to see how mental illness has been treated in the past, as well as the chance to better understand what it’s like to live with mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. It will also connect them with valuable resources to help them better their own mental health and support those with mental illness who are close to them. The exhibit experience is trilingual, with information presented in English, Spanish, and French.
“Access to mental health resources is vitally important,” says Laura Valdez, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Partner at FCMoD. “When it comes to mental health, the first step toward understanding and acceptance is conversation. In taking this first step, we can have honest and open conversations about mental health – with our family, our friends, our classmates, and our community. Conversations around mental health were important before this year and are even more so now.”
“This exhibit is a safe space for learning about mental health and mental illnesses in an educational, approachable, hands-on way,” stated Cheryl Donaldson Moses, Executive Director of the City Partner at FCMoD, adding that “equitable access to Mental Health: Mind Matters is a priority for the museum.” Thanks to the presenting sponsor, Larimer County Behavioral Health Services, along with additional sponsorship from the City of Fort Collins, Bohemian Foundation, Waterpik, and the Hach Center for Regional Engagement, both the exhibit and the museum are free to experience. Laurie Stolen, Director of Larimer County Behavioral Health Services, says: “It’s essential to engage all community members in ways they can support their family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues who are navigating mental health challenges. In this upcoming work, building empathy and understanding is of utmost importance. Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is providing a crucial resource to do so with this exhibit.”
In Mental Health: Mind Matters, visitors will:
•Peek into toy theater sets and listen to audio recordings that depict what life was like for people with mental illness in different places around the world and at different points in history.
•Explore the symptoms, causes, and treatments of common mental illnesses like anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, bipolar disorder and more.
•Test their mental health knowledge and discover that mental illness are similar to other illnesses in many ways.
•Don noise distorting headphones to experience the difficulties some people with symptoms of psychosis experience if they’re unable to filter out some of the sounds that surround them.
•Enter the living room of a man with depression and hear his inner dialog, along with the perspectives of his close family members.
•Play an emotion recognition game that invites them to act out an emotion using only facial expressions. They’ll discover that it’s a challenging task, and it’s even more challenging for other visitors to interpret.
•Discover how artistic activities like painting, dancing, and writing can help us identify and express our emotions and strengthen our mental health.
•Join other visitors in Are You Afraid?, an immersive, full body game that puts them in a dark forest to confront scary creatures, using only their eyes as indicators. When approached, the eyes disappear, and familiar forest animals are revealed. Participants try to survive the night in the forest, converting their fears into less threatening forces and demonstrating that, while facing our fears is difficult, the skills it requires can be practiced and honed.
•Write down their worries and fears, then run them through the Worry Shredder. They’ll see that worries are normal and can be managed in many different ways.
•Gather additional information in a resource center to share with someone you know or better your own mental health.
See a video of the exhibit here
Visitors are also encouraged to join the conversation online, sharing photos from the exhibit with #MakeItOK to continue raising awareness and understanding of mental health.
Mental Health: Mind Matters was produced by the Science Museum of Minnesota with Heureka, The Finnish Science Centre and their partners, Ciência Viva and Cité des Sciences & L’industrie. It is presented by Larimer County Behavior Health Services, with exhibit and admission access support from the City of Fort Collins, Bohemian Foundation, Waterpik, and the Hach Center for Regional Engagement.
Mental Health: Mind Matters opens at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery in the Woodward Special Exhibition Gallery. Starting October 3, the museum and the exhibit will be open Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Admission to both the museum and the exhibit will be free of charge through the exhibit closure on January 10, 2021. Tickets can be reserved in advance on the museum’s website, fcmod.org, where you can also learn more about COVID-19 safety requirements and cleaning procedures.
Fort Collins Museum of Discovery is an innovative cultural and educational institution designed to engage people in hands-on and collections-based explorations in science and culture. FCMoD is located at 408 Mason Court in Fort Collins. For information about the museum, exhibits, and future program opportunities, please visit fcmod.org.