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Pieces: In My Own Voice | Community Stories Summer 2012

ADHD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar - maybe you know something about these disorders - maybe the others are a little unclear.

But with about 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 5 adolescents being diagnosed with some kind of a mental disorder at some point in their lives it’s an issue too big to avoid.

I spoke with Brenda Wesley about starting the conversation on mental health. Brenda is the director of education and outreach for NAMI of Greater of Milwaukee - the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“And being the outreach director for NAMI - It’s just trying to think of a creative way to reach a lot of people to broach a subject that most people don’t want to talk about - they keep it in a closet,” says Brenda.

So she wrote a play that’s designed to remove the stigma and stereotypes of mental health disorders. It’s called Pieces: In My Own Voice.

It started as an adult production, but she was encouraged to do a version for youth to address their specific issues.

“To go out to give them an opportunity to talk to their peers about mental health issues, and bullying and labels and everything that comes with it.”

In the production, each student actor takes on a specific role and shows what it’s like to live with it. The production has shown at nearly a dozen local schools so far and Brenda hopes to work with the school system to continue showing it next school year.

Check out the video and links below for more information on mental health and the adult and youth versions of the play.