The Department of Health Celebrates the Inauguration of the New Mural of Mental Health

New mural at JFK Airport Terminal 4 seeks to address stigma around mental illness

An image of the rainbow colored Unicorn mural on stenciled glass.

August 3, 2022 — Today, the Department of Health announced the debut of a new mural at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) Terminal 4 in the Arrivals Hall, created as part of the New York City Mural Arts Project. The program brings together people with serious mental health conditions, community members, certified peer specialists, or people with lived experience of a serious mental health condition who are trained to provide peer support, and local muralists to collaborate on a mural with a mental health theme. to raise awareness of mental health and reduce stigma towards people experiencing mental illness.

“The New York City Mural Arts Project challenges the stigma around mental illness and promotes community, compassion and respect,” he said. Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “Our approach to mental illness is about building a connection. These murals connect those who have experienced mental illness to each other, to their fellow New Yorkers, and to the fabric of our city. I am grateful to all of our partners and community members who participated in the creation of this beautiful work of art.”

“Behind this incredible mural are countless hours of conversation and connection around mental health,” he said. Acting Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene Dr. Michael McRae.“The New York City Mural Arts Project facilitates a deeper understanding of mental health conditions, empowering and elevating the experiences of the communities that co-created these murals.”

“The Venture House community of members and staff is grateful to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for supporting this important initiative,” he said. Venture House CEO Juliet Douglas. “While mural painting was the vehicle, the ultimate goal of this company was to break down the stigma, by bringing together a diverse group, with and without mental health issues, focused on a common purpose, sharing ideas, exploring assumptions and embracing our commonality. Getting to know those we may fear up close helps dispel misconceptions and removes our prejudices.”

The Terminal 4 mural, titled “LOOK AT US, REALLY LOOK AT US”, was conceptualized and created by members of the Venture House Clubhouse in Jamaica, Queens, an organization that supports people living with serious mental illness, specialists, community members , Michael Turgeon, certified peer specialist, 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 stigma reduction.

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

When the New York City Mural Arts Project begins the process to create a new mural, the program first solicits partners from the mental health program. Professional muralists are then 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 partners, including non-profit, for-profit and elected officials 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 partners can have an open space to talk about mental health and form bonds with each other. people with mental illness and their fellow members of the community.

From there, collaborators will create a mental health theme and correlated design, and engage in an iterative feedback process with the wider community. Once the design is complete, community members will come together to paint the mural panels at public events and eventually present the mural to the community at large. The mural production technology uses Polytab material as the canvas and the panels are glued in place, resulting in a high-quality and durable mural.

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

The New York City Mural Arts Project was developed by the Health Department and launched in 2016. Since its launch, the program has created ten large-scale murals and two mural banks.

The Brooklyn Department of Health and Community Services is seeking CBO partners to begin the mural design process by 2023. For more information, visit

“I am very proud to have served as a peer counselor (a trained and certified peer advocate with a mental health condition) with the New York City Mural Arts Project in collaboration with the Venture House Club House in Jamaica, Queens,” he said. Michael Turgeon, Certified Peer Specialist. “It was truly an incredible opportunity to work with such dedicated and creative colleagues and staff, the New York City community, and an incredible New York City artist to develop a large-scale piece of art that will have a lasting legacy of breaking the stigma surrounding mental illness and at the same time. at the same time, beautifying the City”.

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

“We are always looking for ways to ensure that all of our guests and the entire T4 community feel seen, heard and recognized,” he 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 down the stigma around mental health and raise awareness of the resources available to support mental well-being”.

“This new mural here at John F. Kennedy International Airport is meaningful to New Yorkers and the millions of international travelers who pass through Terminal 4 annually,” he said. Hersh Parekh, Director of Government Affairs for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.“The Port Authority focuses heavily on community partnerships and opportunities, especially at our airports. It is good to see that the result of such a collaboration is a beautiful and inspiring public art installation that will be enjoyed by travelers and conveys a strong message about the importance of mental health.”

“Programs like the New York City Mural Arts Project create a space for communities to come together and support each other’s mental health,” he said. Brooklyn Community Services President and CEO Janelle Farris. “Brooklyn Community Services is proud to partner with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and other human service agencies to fight the stigma associated with mental illness both in Brooklyn and beyond.”

“I am delighted that international visitors to New York City via JFK will be greeted by a fantastic new mural created through the New York City Mural Arts Program, showing that New York City is a place where people living with mental illness are welcomed and supported. said Mary Crowley, Interim President and CEO of Fountain House. “I’m especially glad that people living with serious mental illness, including members of the Venture House clubhouse, helped create the mural and together they helped end the stigma. Ultimately, there can be no health without mental health.” And we hope that this JFK Airport mural will serve as a powerful message to everyone in our city that they are not alone in their struggles, that recovery is possible and that there is healing in the community.”



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