Illuminating Mental Health | MGH Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds

Illuminating Mental Health

A finished illuminated collage by the Clay Center team on a window overlooking Boston

A project by Elisa H. Hamilton in partnership with The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. Tune in to our podcast for a conversation with Elisa about ‘Illuminating  Mental Health.’

Illuminating Mental Health is the result of an 8-month partnership between multimedia artist Elisa H. Hamilton and The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds. Ms. Hamilton and the Clay Center worked in collaboration to create a prototype that will reduce stigma surrounding mental health issues. The Illuminated Collage workshop and activity programs use education, conversation, and participatory art making to help raise awareness and increase knowledge about mental health. By bringing conversations about mental and emotional health challenges out of the shadows and into the light, we make it easier to talk about these things, and combat the stigma that prevents us from seeking support and leading our fullest lives together.

Home Activity Guide

Family putting up an illuminated collage at homeThe Illuminated Collage home activity uses family art making as a creative way to share feelings. A collage is a type of art that is made up of lots of different pieces. You’ll be making this collage together – with the young people or others in your home – each person adding their own unique pieces to the whole. By sharing our feelings together through art, we create an entry point for conversations about emotional and mental health, and bring these feelings and conversations out of the shadows and into the light!

Watch this “How To” video for an overview of the activity.

Video produced by Herman Servatius

Ready to get started? Download the activity guide!

Illuminated Collage – Home Activity Guide

Have you created your own illuminated collage? We’d love to see. Share pictures on social media with #illuminatedcollage and tag the Clay Center! @mghclaycenter (Instagram), @MGHClayCenter (Twitter), and @massgeneralclaycenter (Facebook)

Classroom Toolkit


This workshop is designed for use in classrooms and uses education, dialogue, and participatory art making in an effort to raise awareness and build knowledge about mental health. This toolkit includes a guide for the workshop as well additional resources for the facilitator.

What’s Stigma?

In short, stigma is the result of negative stereotypes about certain groups of people. People who are labeled negatively often experience fear, shame, or even discrimination that keeps them from seeking connections and support. Mental health stigma can cause individuals struggling with a mental or behavioral health challenge to not seek help, and to separate themselves from others. Stigma can also lead to loss of self-esteem and make it difficult for individuals struggling with a mental health challenge to make friends.

​Some methods for reducing stigma include education, or “myth-busting,” having open conversations about mental health, and public awareness campaigns (Heads Together, Seize the Awkward), that help to make stigma visible. If we can see it, we can combat it.

The Illuminating Mental Health model seeks to activate conversations about mental health by making it visible, providing an entry point to conversations about mental health through participatory art making. The Illuminated Collage workshop and activity programs aim to:
1. Normalize conversations about mental health
2. Provide a collaborative, creative vehicle for identifying, expressing, and sharing feelings
3. Create a visually compelling, physical representation of mental health
4. Educate about mental health

Visit the original Illuminating Mental Health website here.

The information provided on the Illuminating Mental Health webpage and in the Illuminated Collage workshop and activity guides is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical, health care, or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on this webpage is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified healthcare professional. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your healthcare provider.