Quilting Away Mental Health Stigma

In order to raise mental health awareness, Lily Derella, Sirin Thad, Leah Linder, and many others worked together to create a colorful quilt in Washington Square Park.

The NYC community united on Wednesday to promote mental health awareness by creating an illustrative quilt in Washington Square Park.

The project — an initiative of the Tumblr-based platform Post It Forward and Thrive NYC — encouraged participants to contribute handdrawn art to the quilt, and it served as a way to openly discuss various mental health issues without stigmatization.

Tumblr Communications Manager Leah Linder invented the Mental Health Quilt as a positive outlet for New Yorkers, students and tourists alike to compile their thoughts on mental health in a creative way. Linder said this effort is just one way the platform aims to create community and bring people together in an authentic way.

“Post It Forward has been super active within the Tumblr user base,” Linder said. “We get submissions through the website and posts using #PostItForward all the time. It’s people just telling us their stories, sharing advice, seeking support and looking for resources. We’ve seen it become this self-sustaining community.”


During the event, colorful tables were set up for participants to color in their pieces of the quilts

while passers bys received back massages, people played with therapy puppies, live jazz hummed in the background and a rainbow art banner flew in the wind. The installation was created by Tumblr Creatr Sirin Thada, and it will be at First Park until the end of the week.

Director of Networks and Coalitions at New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Takeesha White coordinated the event, and she said that people should always take care of themselves and make time for relaxation. She believes that this self-care propels people to achieve their life goals.

“The mission is to give people a little break and have them know and understand that mental health is really for everyone and that taking a moment for self-care is encouraged by all of us,” White said. “We know people are valuable, and we want to affirm them as people who deserve the good, nice moment of relaxation.”

When asked what advice White had for college students in NYC, she said students should be ambitious and go after their dreams.  

“Go for what you really want,” White said. “Be intentional about it and live your life on purpose so that you can have what it is that is exactly what you feel will make you happy. Whatever it is that you love is what the world wants from you. It’s unique, it’s special and it’s needed.”

Email Miranda Levingston at [email protected]



  1. —-Quilting Away Mental Health Stigma

    Each time you say there is a stigma to mental health issues you cater to people who hold that prejudice, you add your voice to theirs.

    Is that really what you want to do?

  2. This nonsense does not serve people suffering from mental illnesses in ANY way. Sitting around petting puppies, looking at rainbows and drawing cute little pictures? How does acting like a toddler do anything to actually help people with real problems? It must be nice to be this sheltered and infantilized.

  3. As a mental health author, I say “Bravo!” to those seeking to fight stigma by using positive action. I wish more young people would embrace mental health issues like this. NYU students as well as may other college students, especially, need to check their stress levels once in college and beyond. Historically, there have been too many suicides at NYU. I am always very sad to hear when this happens.

    Doctors, lawyers, and police officers all need to keep their mental health sound, as they are so important for the rest of us! (They have the three highest rates of suicide of any professions,.) We all need to be more cognizant of mental health, especially when 1 in 5 New Yorkers has some kind of mental health diagnosis. Mental health issues touch all of us at every time in our lives! The stress of finances and school is a crazy concoction.

    FYI, Check out the new, free NYC-based mental health resource http://www.citylab.com/cityfixer/2016/10/putting-mental-health-resources-in-new-yorkers-pockets/505634/ and maybe check out my own mental health author blog at http://www.mentalhealth books.net

    I, personally, developed schizophrenia at the age of 19 due to the stress of schooling and also my genetics (the risk is about 50%/50%) it turns out. Since then I have lived a pretty fulfilling life as a graduate of the prestigious SUNY Stonybrook and then a Masters of Library Science at Queens College, then as a Columbia University Library Chief, Teacher, Author of 31 books, and more. If anybody is looking to connect with a mental health author who is trying to change the world for the good, say hi!

    I wish good mental health for all of us and a good helping of understanding to those who need it.

    I will now take this opportunity to shout out to my beautiful Paisa!



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