New Interactive Fort Collins Colorado Mural Is Stunning and Promotes Mental Health
Imagine Zero, The Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County has joined forces with the Fort Collins Mural Project to create a one-of-a-kind interactive mural centered around youth mental health.
Situated on the East-facing wall of the United Way building in Fort Collins, CO (525 W Oak Street), the mural incorporates an innovative QR code that brings it to life, displaying heartfelt messages from young individuals regarding their mental health experiences.
Working in collaboration with the United Way, Fort Collins Mural Project, and artist Jess Bean, this powerful artwork draws inspiration from the valuable insights of over 10,000 teens, gathered over several years.
The mural stands as a visual symbol of the unwavering dedication of local partners in supporting those on a challenging mental health journey. Don't miss the opportunity to witness the mural firsthand, explore its origins, and engage with its interactive features at the designated location.
What Does the Mural Represent?
Here is an artist statement. Jess Bean (@JBeanArt) created this amazing mural.
The outermost faces are representative of the parts of our psyche that make up what society sees. One representing the "negative" emotions and one the "positive" emotions. One representing the feminine and one the masculine that reside in all of us. Jess chose the playful expressions to speak towards how warning signs/cries for help are often overlooked by friends and family, because the suicidal are able to laugh and have moments of happiness even while they are in their darkest moments. Along the edges of the ripple effect in the sky is messages from the cards program written in each author's handwriting.
I talked to Kim Pratt of The Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County and here is what she told me about the new mural.
Can you tell me about Imagine Zero Suicide and your goals?
Kim: "Imagine Zero" as we often abbreviate it, is a coalition that started out as a few organizations wanting to bring a conference to the community to build awareness and education after multiple youths died by suicide.
Initially, when the small group of organizations got together to plan the conference they quickly realized that our community organizations were not aware of each other or the work that was happening in the community.
Instead of a conference, a coalition, Imagine Zero, was formed as a way to collaborate and network. Our unofficial tagline is, "collaboration over competition." We have over 50 active organizations and 2,000 members on our mailing list.
Currently, our primary goal is to support the efforts of the Colorado National Collaborative (CNC).
The CNC is a partnership of local, state, and national scientists and public health professionals working with health and social service agencies, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, businesses, academic organizations, and Colorado residents to identify, promote and implement comprehensive state- and community-based strategies for preventing suicide.
Read more about the CNC here.
I understand that there was collected feedback from teens around the area. What did Northern Colorado teens have a say in this piece of art?
Kim: The Alliance for Suicide Prevention of Larimer County's (ASP) mission is to prevent suicide through training and education, providing outreach, and offering support.
For decades we've been offering suicide prevention training to middle and high school students and in 2020 we started collecting responses from students that answered the question, "What do you want adults to know about mental health?" We have collected over 10,000 responses. When we share these responses with adults - in schools, coffee shops, doctor's offices...etc the response is always the same, "oh my gosh everyone needs to see these!" We went to the youth and asked, how do we get this in the community more? This is where the mural project idea came from.
We know that stories are more powerful than statistics. We know that when we use a heart-centered lens that gives people permission to show up as human - authentic and vulnerable - and share their experiences and voices we are empowering a whole community. We believe the mural project will only continue these important conversations. That this project will give voice to the thousands of teens in our community.
1. decrease stigma around mental health and mental health conversations.
2. increase awareness of youth mental health needs in our community.
3. provide mental health resources to the community.
You can learn more about Imagine Zero here.