Department of Health celebrates unveiling of new mental health mural

New mural at JFK Airport Terminal 4 aims to tackle mental illness stigma

August 3, 2022 — Today, the Department of Health announced the launch of a new mural at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 4 in the arrivals hall, created as part of the NYC Mural Arts Project . The program brings together people with serious mental health issues, community members, certified peer specialists – or people with lived experience of a serious mental health issue who are trained to provide peer support – and local muralists to collaborate on a mental health-themed mural to raise mental health awareness and reduce stigma towards people with mental illness.

“The NYC Mural Arts Project confronts the stigma around mental illness and promotes community, compassion and respect,” said Health Commissioner, Dr Ashwin Vasan. “Our approach to mental illness is about making connections. These murals connect people with lived experience of mental illness to each other, their fellow New Yorkers, and the fabric of our city. I thank all our partners and community members who participated in the creation of this magnificent work of art.

“Behind this incredible mural are countless hours of conversations and connections around mental health,” said Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene, Dr. Michael McRae.“The NYC Mural Arts Project facilitates greater understanding of mental health issues, empowering and elevating the experiences of the communities who co-created these murals.

“The Venture House staff and member community is grateful to the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for supporting this meaningful initiative,” said Juliet Douglas, President and CEO of Venture House. “While the mural was the vehicle, the end goal of this endeavor was to eradicate stigma, through bringing together a diverse group, with and without mental health issues, focused on a common goal, sharing ideas , exploring assumptions and embracing our common ground. Getting closer to those we may fear helps dispel misconceptions and eliminate our biases.

The Terminal 4 mural, titled “SEE US, REALLY SEE US”, was conceptualized and created by members of the Venture House Clubhouse in Jamaica, Queens – an organization that supports people living with serious mental health issues – specialist peers, community members, Certified Peer Specialist Michael Turgeon and professional muralist Giannina Gutierrez. The mural arts project is facilitated by Brooklyn Community Services and funded by the New York City Department of Health.

FK Terminal 4 was chosen as the final site for the mural due to the high level of foot traffic, amplifying the message of the importance of mental health and reducing stigma.

Research shows that the best way to reduce stigma is for people living with serious mental health issues to share their experience, recovery and resources while providing hope and encouragement to peers and community members. An evaluation of the wall art project found that of those who participated in the community engagement workshops, 65% experienced a positive change in their stigma towards people with mental illness and 58% showed an increase in mental health awareness and education.

When the NYC Mural Arts Project begins the process of creating a new mural, the program first engages mental health program partners. Next, professional muralists are selected, ideally those who have created public art in the chosen neighborhoods. Brooklyn Community Services, which has been contracted to operate the program, then identifies various community partner entities, including nonprofit, for-profit, and elected representatives, to support the promotion of the project in the chosen community.

During the planning phase, the mental health program partner will host a series of public events and workshops where mental health program participants and community collaborators can have an open space to discuss mental health and create links between people with mental illness and other members of the community.

From there, collaborators will create a mental health theme and correlative design, and engage in an iterative feedback process with the wider community. Once the design is finalized, community members will come together to paint the wall panels at public events and finally unveil the mural to the entire community. The mural production technology uses the Polytab material as the canvas and the panels are glued in place resulting in a high quality and long lasting mural.

The whole process, from start to finish, takes about a full year.

The Department of Health developed the NYC Mural Arts Project and launched it in 2016. Since its launch, the program has created ten large-scale murals and two wall benches.

The Brooklyn Department of Health and Community Services is seeking CBO partners to begin the process of designing murals for 2023. For more information, visit

“I am so proud to have served as a peer counselor (a trained and certified peer advocate who has a mental health issue) with the NYC Mural Arts Project in conjunction with Venture House Club House in Jamaica, Queens,” said Peer Certified Specialist Michael Turgeon. “It was truly an incredible opportunity to work with such dedicated and creative peers and staff, the NYC community and an amazing NYC artist to develop a large-scale work of art that will have a lasting legacy to break the stigma surrounding mental illness and at the same time beautifying the City.

“My experience with NYC MAPS this year has been extremely rewarding and rewarding,” said muralist Giannina Gutierrez. “I grew up in Jamaica, Queens. Coming back here as a professional artist was humbling, I really felt a responsibility to make sure all voices were heard. That we all are seen for who we really are, not as the stigmas people perpetuate about mental illness. From the concepts to the actual execution of the mural, and a few obstacles, we’ve overcome. Hope this speaks to us to all and really creates the awareness we need to treat each other with love and compassion.

“We are always looking for ways to ensure that all of our customers and the entire T4 community feel seen, heard and recognized,” said Roel Huinink, president and CEO of JFKIAT, the operator of Terminal 4 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.“We are proud to partner with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, NYC Mural Arts and our community partners on this exceptional project to break the stigma around mental health and raise awareness of available resources. to support mental well-being.

“”This new mural here at John F. Kennedy International Airport is significant to New Yorkers and the millions of international travelers who pass through Terminal 4 each year,” said Hersh Parekh, director of government affairs at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.“The Port Authority is intensely focused on community partnerships and opportunities, particularly at our airports. It’s good to see that the result of such a collaboration is a beautiful and inspiring public art installation that will appeal to travelers and send a strong message about the importance of mental health.

“Programs like the NYC Mural Arts Project create space for communities to come together and support each other on mental health issues,” said Janelle Farris, president and executive director of Brooklyn Community Services. “Brooklyn Community Services is proud to partner with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other social service agencies to address the stigma associated with mental illness in Brooklyn and beyond. “

“I am thrilled that international visitors to New York via JFK are greeted by a fantastic new mural created as part of the NYC Mural Arts Program, which shows that New York is a place where people living with mental illness are welcome. and supported,” said Mary Crowley, Acting President and CEO of Fountain House. “I am especially pleased that people living with serious mental illness, including members of the Venture House clubhouse, helped create the mural and together are helping to eradicate the stigma. Ultimately, there can be no have health without sanity and we hope this mural in JFK Airport will serve as a powerful message to everyone in our city that they are not alone in their struggles, that healing is possible and that there is healing in the community.”



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