By Melissa Ford
A couple of weeks ago, I attended Erasing The Distance, an arts performance organization working to shed light on mental health issues. A series of compelling, thought-provoking, and touching monologues and scenes were presented, educating the audience about mental illness. At the completion of the performance, an audience dialogue ensued with audience members speaking freely, posing questions, and sharing their experiences.
Impressed by the caliber of the performances and moved by the email I received below from ETD’s Director of Communications, Jennifer Mathews, I decided to go online and vote for Erasing The Distance to receive grant money through the Chase Community Giving program (which has already directed more than $15 million dollars towards charities nationwide).
Would you join me in voting?
To vote, visit http://www.erasingthedistance.org/whatshappening/ and click on the Chase icon and cast your vote for Erasing The Distance. Hurry—voting ends on Nov. 22nd!
And, please read Jennifer Mathews’ email for more details on the important work of Erasing The Distance.
We are currently in the running for a $25,000 grant from Chase Community Giving via a Facebook voting campaign, and it would mean so much to our organization if you could vote for us! Voting is so easy and it can have an enormous impact on so many lives.
I've been involved with Erasing the Distance for several years, and I have personally seen lives transformed at our shows. I've seen people listen to our professional actors perform real people's true stories, and realize they are not alone. I've seen storytellers watch their stories come to life onstage and see for the first time that they are more than just their illness; they are vibrant, vital members of society. I can't emphasize the gift it gives a person to give voice to what they are feeling when we are mostly conditioned as a society to keep those feelings hidden.
Mental health issues are so pervasive, but so many people don't realize it because it is not talked about. People feel free to discuss when they are struggling with arthritis or diabetes or other chronic/debilitating diseases, but mental illness still has such a stigma around it that must people suffer in silence. There is an element of shame surrounding mental health issues that Erasing the Distance is trying to eradicate, simply by (literally) putting each person's unique story in the spotlight and showing audiences the human side to mental illness.
There are so many people who think they are not touched by this, and then they realize that even if they themselves are lucky enough to have escaped serious mental health issues, they often know a co-worker, brother, mother, daughter, neighbor or friend who lives with one every day - whether it be depression, an eating disorder, substance abuse, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, just to name a few.
So many people would like to help, but don't know where to begin.
Taking the time to support Erasing the Distance with your vote is one small step toward disarming the stigma surrounding mental health issues and joining in the conversation. We aren't asking for money; we are only asking for a couple minutes of your time. $25,000 is an enormous amount of money to our tiny organization, and will go a long way toward helping us continue to use the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.
If you have ever suffered from a mental health issue, or have known and/or loved someone who has, I urge you to vote for us today. Voting ends on Nov. 22nd. Thank you for your support.
Thank you for your support,
Since ERASING THE DISTANCE’s inception in 2005, they have reached over 26,000 people across Illinois and the country. For more information please visit www.ErasingtheDistance.org.