A reception and photo exhibit, “I Am More: Facing Stigma,” will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, May 9, at the Rangeley Lakeside Theater, 2493 Main St., Rangeley, according to a news release from Rangeley Health and Wellness. The Yellow Tulip Project will be hosted by Rangeley Health and Wellness and Rangeley Lakes Regional School student leadership group.

This black-and-white photography exhibit aims to erase the stigma that surrounds mental illness by expanding people’s perceptions and challenging expectations of what mental illness “looks like,” according to the release. The courageous models in this exhibit are more than their depression, their anxiety, their eating disorder, their post-traumatic stress disorder, or being a suicide survivor. They are musicians, artists, nature lovers, parents, and friends; and they are all facing stigma, according to the release.

According to the release, the project focuses on “smashing the stigma” that surrounds mental illness while building communities where people realize that there is help and “Hope Happens”. The stigma surrounding mental health often prevents those affected from getting the support they need and deserve. The project team is dedicated to letting people know that their struggles are real, there are ways to access the care they need, and their circumstances can and will change. They hope that eventually talking about mental illness will be as comfortable and normalized as talking about any physical illness. Their message is simple and clear: come together, plant hope gardens, build community, talk about mental health and smash the stigma.

The project encourages organizations to plant Hope Gardens in their community. These communal events can bring people together and provide a space for conversations about mental health.

In addition to the photo exhibit, a Hope Day Celebration will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 11, at the Rangeley Wellness Pavilion, 25 Dallas Hill Road, in Rangeley. There will be tulips for planting in the Hope Garden, wellness activities, children’s activities, massage, yoga, outreach and educational information available. The celebration is open to all.

For more information about the event, call 670-5236 or email [email protected].

For more information about the Yellow Tulip Project, visit theyellowtulipproject.org.

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