The Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania's I’m the Evidence/Mental Health Campaign (ITE/MH) is a grassroots initiative to raise awareness about how each of us can positively impact the lives of people in mental health recovery, by honoring human potential, creating opportunities, and offering encouragement. The Campaign's goals are to:
- Increase awareness of recovery.
- Engage individuals, organizations, and communities in the support of recovery.
- Celebrate individuals, organizations, and communities that support recovery.
ITE/MH is based around the following I'm the Evidence poem, which expresses the values at the heart of the Campaign: belief, hope, giving, connectedness, action, example, encouragement, and possibility. We honor and celebrate everyone who lives and supports these values.
I'm the Evidence
I’m the EvidenceFor how belief inspiresHow hope transforms andHow giving heals the soul
I’m The EvidenceFor what can be achievedHow feeling connected can ground andHow there is invaluable worth in an act of faith
I’m the EvidenceFor how an example can leadHow far encouragement can take you andHow one step begins a journey towards endless possibilities
(Poem: © 2012 Support the Journey, Inc. All rights reserved.)
MHAPA’s longstanding mission is to facilitate mental health recovery. Early on, we focused on eliminating stigma and discrimination, barriers to recovery, by educating people about mental illness.
Then, a group of individuals with lived experience approached MHAPA to suggest a new approach to promoting recovery—and eliminating stigma—that showcases people who have experienced recovery and their supporters.
We decided it was time to stop talking about the negatives of stigma and discrimination and start talking about the positives of recovery.
We launched I’m the Evidence/Mental Health Campaign (ITE/MH) in 2011. A grassroots campaign, ITE/MH creatively promotes recovery through the very people who are the evidence of recovery and their supporters.
The Campaign is based on a poem about the values that support recovery—belief, hope, giving, connectedness, action, example, encouragement, and possibility.These values are our anthem, shared through Campaign Ambassadors, events, presentations, and a public art project.
ITE/MH leverages MHAPA’s vast statewide mental health network of affiliates, advocates, advocacy organizations, counties, and providers to reach individuals and communities with our messages of hope and recovery. Through this network and community-based events and programs, we’ve built a growing Ambassador program of individuals—people in recovery and their supporters—who have joined the Campaign to honor recovery and provide encouragement and example to others.
We encourage all of MHAPA’s affiliates and other mental health organizations to implement the Campaign into their everyday work, providing them with a comprehensive toolkit of materials, action ideas, and the ITE/MH presentation to assist with this implementation.
Our community-based Faces of Mental Health Recovery Public Art Project (FoMHR) is also specifically designed to engage local organizations—in and out of behavioral health—in celebrating recovery. We offer the basic framework and empower the organizations to implement the project in their communities, with their constituents.
ITE/MH receives financial support from the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) that partially funds our efforts. Still in its infancy, the Campaign is in the early stages of developing a strategic fundraising plan to support continued growth.
ITE/MH’s model is designed to be replicable and scalable. Driven by individuals, rather than systems, the Campaign momentum comes from simple actions that everyone can take to support mental health recovery.
The Campaign’s foundational messages is that everyone can make a difference in the lives of people with mental illness, by offering hope and opportunities, making a real, human connection with someone, being the example of possibility, and encouraging people to not give up. We believe this message is transferrable across the behavioral health community and outside of it.
The Campaign has worked with the veteran’s administration, state hospital system, and numerous consumer organizations to adapt elements of the Campaign for the distinct audiences these bodies serve. Our public art project has been replicated in two very different communities—the large suburban Montgomery County and small rural Perry County. And we’re in the planning stages for projects in western PA.
ITE/MH currently measures our performance by the number of people and communities we’ve reached in direct and indirect ways. In the time since ITE/MH’s launch, more than 570 people have joined the Campaign as Ambassadors. More than 30 organizations across the state, ranging from local Clubhouses and consumer run programs to behavioral health agencies to veteran organizations, have engaged us for presentations, workshops, or webinars.
In exit surveys, event attendees indicate a strong willingness to take action on the Campaign. And select workshops have culminated with action plans for incorporating the Campaign. In at least one county, such an action plan has resulted in implementation of the Campaign into various program curricula.
Additionally, we have distributed more than 5,000 ITE/MH poem cards and posters to organizations and individuals. And key tools for reaching audiences is our newly launched blog and our Facebook page, which both continue to attract followers.