This Is My Brave, Inc. (TIMB), the national nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance abuse issues through storytelling, will perform at Lesley University, Harvard University, Northeastern University, and Tufts University. These events, which mark the first time this material has been performed in front of college audiences, feature students and recent graduates sharing their struggles and triumphs with mental illness, live on stage. Performances are open to each university community and the public, and are scheduled for October 10 at Lesley University (also World Health Day); October 23 at Harvard University; October 28 at Northeastern University; and November 5 at Tufts University.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students. Yet the conversation around mental illness is limited by shame and silence. Founded in 2014, This Is My Brave aims to break that silence by celebrating the stories of people dealing with mental illness. While college students have participated in previous events across the U.S., this is the first TIMB program dedicated exclusively to college-age young adults. The expansion to colleges is sponsored by The Ruderman Family Foundation and an Alkermes Inspiration Grant®.
“There is a mental health crisis in our nation’s universities,” said Jennifer Marshall, TIMB Executive Director and Co-Founder. “This Is My Brave felt that we had to contribute to a solution. When you share your story, it chips away at the shame that many of us with mental illness experience. It shines a light on hope and makes us feel more connected to others. It also educates and creates empathy among our loved ones and those who do not experience mental health issues. It is my hope that these performances will have lasting and impactful ripple effects throughout these universities.”
The Boston-area college performances feature students and graduates from Boston University, MIT, Berklee College of Music, Lesley University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University.
“Mental health can impact anyone, and high school and college can be especially challenging,” said Sharon Shapiro, a trustee and community liaison. “This Is My Brave shows students that other people like them have had similar experiences, and that there are resources available to help get them through. Mental health should not be stigmatized, and This Is My Brave is turning the tide against that stigma.”
“Millions of people are impacted by mental illness and substance abuse, especially young people and students, who often feel alone and are afraid to share their experiences. Because of This Is My Brave, students now have an opportunity to share their story and connect with others in a safe and open environment,” said Jeff Winton, senior vice president of public affairs at Alkermes, Inc., a pharmaceutical company that helped sponsor the program. “This is My Brave are leaders in reducing the stigma associated with these diseases and encourage positive conversations on college campuses across the country, setting a precedent for what is possible for those living with mental health and addiction diseases. We are proud to support organizations like This Is My Brave, especially those that are reaching our local, Boston community, through the Alkermes Inspiration Grants® program.”
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five American adults face mental health issues (National Institute of Mental Health), yet the topic continues to carry shame. This Is My Brave aims to end this stigma and silence by celebrating the stories of real people living successful lives with mental health and substance use challenges. Since its first show in 2014 in Arlington, VA, This Is My Brave: The Show has featured more than 700 people sharing their stories in 59 performances across the United States and in Australia.
Each performance is produced by a local producer or partner organization, with support from TIMB. Auditions can encompass perspectives on any form of mental illness or substance use including depression, anxiety, OCD, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, PTSD, and more. Stories can be shared via spoken word essay, original poetry, original song, comedy, dance or even mime; caregivers and loved ones are also encouraged to audition.
ABOUT THIS IS MY BRAVE
This Is My Brave was co-founded in Virginia by Jennifer Marshall and Anne Marie Ames (1958-2017), two women passionate about ending the stigma surrounding mental illness, and saving lives through storytelling. In May of 2014, TIMB debuted its first ever live show in Arlington, Virginia at the Spectrum Theatre to a sold-out crowd of nearly 400. The nonprofit organization has hosted performances across the United States and in Australia, including Greenville, SC; Valparaiso, IN (Chicagoland); Denver, CO; Iowa City, IA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Los Angeles, CA; Boston, MA; Lewiston, ME; Wheeling, WV; Boise, ID; New York, NY; and beyond. TIMB has been featured in The Washington Post and O, The Oprah Magazine, Stage-Directions Magazine, as well as many other publications. TIMB has been producing mental health storytelling productions for the past six years.
Each performance is free and open to the public, RSVP is recommended.
Monday, October 28, 8pm
Raytheon Auditorium in the Egan Research Center at Northeastern University
120 Forsyth Street, Boston, MA 02115
Tuesday, November 5, 7pm
Cohen Auditorium in the Aidekman Arts Center at Tufts University
40 Talbot Avenue Medford, MA 02115
Fall 2019 performances, including high school and university pilot programs, will be presented in Orlando, FL; Bentonville, AR; Hershey, PA; Boston, MA; Columbus, OH; Boise, ID; and Carroll County, MD. For more information about This Is My Brave, visit ThisIsMyBrave.org or youtube.com/thisismybrave.
ABOUT THE RUDERMAN FAMILY FOUNDATION
The Ruderman Family Foundation is an internationally recognized organization advocating for the full inclusion of people with disabilities in our society. The Foundation supports effective programs, innovative partnerships and a dynamic approach to philanthropy in advocating for and advancing the inclusion of people with disabilities throughout the United States and the world. The Ruderman Family Foundation believes that inclusion and understanding of all people is essential to a fair and flourishing community and imposes these values within its leadership and funding. For more information, please visit rudermanfoundation.org.