Quilting Away Mental Health Stigma


Miranda Levingston

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.

Miranda Levingston, Staff Writer

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]