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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department of Health and Human Services
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration

Last Updated: 6/22/2012

SAMHSA’s Resource Center to Promote Acceptance,
Dignity and Social Inclusion Associated with
Mental Health (ADS Center)


Nothing to Hide
Amherst, Massachusetts

Start Date

Brief Description
Nothing To Hide: Mental Illness in the Family is a touring photo exhibit that was developed by the Family Diversity Project, a nonprofit educational organization based in Amherst, MA. The exhibit, which debuted in 19992000, presents a collection of 20 museum-quality photographs and the text of interviews that tell poignant stories of courageous individuals and their families whose lives are affected by mental illness. The exhibit also is available in book form, featuring portraits and stories of 44 families who defy the stigma of mental illness by speaking candidly about their lives.

In December 1999, the publication Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General called upon the American public to educate themselves and others about mental health and the problems caused by mental illnesses. Two years later, this report was followed by the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention Goals and Objectives for Action, a document providing a new framework for suicide prevention across the Nation. Included in this action plan was a call for developing more and better strategies for reducing the stigma associated with being a consumer of mental health and suicide prevention services. In response to this growing national concern for mental health and the experiences of people with mental illnesses, the Family Diversity Project began developing plans for a national, touring photo-text exhibit dedicated to this topic. Out of that response, the Nothing To Hide: Mental Illness in the Family exhibit was born.

The Nothing To Hide exhibit helps dispel harmful stereotypes, myths, and misconceptions about mental illness by presenting first-person accounts from families in which one or more persons have been diagnosed with a psychiatric illness. By hosting Nothing To Hide, organizations can connect with and educate members of the public in an intimate and personal way. The net effect of this connection is the reduction (and hopefully the elimination) of stigma in communities throughout the country. Multiple copies of the exhibit are available for travel nationwide to schools, universities, workplaces, public libraries, houses of worship, mental health centers, corporate headquarters, statehouses, hospitals, museums, community centers, and conferences.

The Nothing To Hide exhibit has provided opportunities for approximately 250 to 300 organizations to convene panel discussions or presentations by mental health professionals, mental health advocates, and mental health service consumers and their families. It also has brought media attention to other stigma reduction programs, mental health support services, and mental health conferences around the United States. As a testament to the power of its message, the book Nothing To Hide: Mental Illness in the Family, based on the touring exhibit, won the 2003 Kenneth Johnson Research Librarys Ken Book Award.

For more information about the Nothing To Hide exhibit, contact Family Diversity Projects, P.O. Box 1246, Amherst, MA 01004, phone: 413-256-0502, e-mail:, Web site:


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This Web site was developed under contract with the Office of Consumer Affairs in SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services. The views, opinions, and content provided on this Web site do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or policies of SAMHSA or HHS. The resources listed in this Web site are not all-inclusive and inclusion on this Web site does not constitute an endorsement by SAMHSA or HHS.