Art First, Mental Illness Second

When we first started working with People Incorporated, I was jazzed, to say the least. I didn’t know much about the almost 50-year-old organization, other than that it provided a variety of mental health services in the Twin Cities metro. But I did know it provided an amazing opportunity for Bellmont Partners to combine our expertise in working with Twin Cities nonprofit organizations with our specialty in health care communications, putting our strategic media relations, content marketing and digital approach into action to help raise awareness of the vital work that People Incorporated does in our community. Little did we know just how much we’d all get out of the partnership.

Flash forward a few months through hours of stakeholder interviews, audience mapping, messaging writing, social media consulting and brainstorms, and it was time to put our strategy to work. While we’ve worked with People Incorporated on multiple communications tactics since the beginning of our partnership, this week’s Artability Art Show & Sale presented the opportunity to really reintroduce People Incorporated and its programs to the Twin Cities.

Artability is a celebration of the creativity and contributions of people with mental illness to our community, and more than 100 Minnesota artists participate in the annual show. These members of our communities use the Artability show – and year-round workshops – as an outlet to work through living with mental illness and other conditions and circumstances. Just like I do, as someone who buries herself in work to cope with her mental illness. (And those who know me know I don’t talk much about my depression and anxiety out loud, but boy do I tweet about it!)

Needless to say, the teams here at Bellmont Partners and at People Incorporated made this project meaningful, enjoyable and, most of all, impactful. The best part about getting to promote Artability is the fact that the show and workshops are first and foremost about the art, and not about mental illness. In fact, this notion of “person first” is key to each interaction People Incorporated has with a client in its integrated system of care and is fueled by the reality that a person’s mental illness does not define them.

It has been so lovely to see these artists thrive and truly love the art they’re making. One artist told us that Artability workshops helped him and his wife cope with their mental and physical disabilities in an accessible, approachable way. And at the workshops, they know the instructors and fellow artists “get it.” From KARE’s Breaking the News to the Pioneer Press, Villager, Fox 9 and WCCO, we’ve been honored to help educate Minnesotans about this amazing program and organization right in their backyard.

So, come enjoy the 23rd annual Artability Art Show & Sale this week Thursday – Saturday, Oct. 26-28, at the Great Hall in St. Paul. There will be live poetry and spoken-word performances, interactive art installations, a performance by the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir Thursday night, and more than 500 pieces of original, incredible artwork. Show hours and more information can be found at:

And if you’ve ever found yourself struggling with your mental health, and could use a creative outlet, consider signing up for one of the FREE public Artability workshops! I’ve got my eye on the creative journaling class, personally.

See you at the Artability Art Show & Sale!

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