MIMH’s Andrea Purnell was profiled about her mental health outreach efforts by the online magazine the St. Louis Curator. (Photo courtesy of the St. Louis Curator)

Andrea Purnell uses her background in the arts to raise awareness about mental health in a creative way.

Purnell, communications and artistic director for the Missouri Institute of Mental Health at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, has organized flash mobs, staged plays as well as gallery shows in an effort to spotlight mental health issues.

“Show me depression in dance, show me schizophrenia in music,” is what she tells artists, she explained in a recent interview with the online magazine the St. Louis Curator, which recently profiled her extensive outreach efforts.

In 2008, she collaborated with Vetta Thompson, an associate professor at Washington University’s Brown School of Social Work, to write and produce a play called “Depression … Whose Disease is it Anyway?”  It examines mental health issues in the African American community.

Even in her own life Purnell uses art to process personal pain.

“My mother unfortunately passed away from cancer. And I’m still grieving, but will use my grief to create a production out of that. So I don’t know if that’s healthy – it is for me,” she said in the article.

She also turned to writing to deal with a serious illness impacting her sister’s health.

Visit the St. Louis Curator website to read the full article.

Myra Lopez

Myra Lopez