Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project
The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project started in 2006 and invites families with mental health needs to share their stories and experiences through photographs and personal narratives. Photovoice is a qualitative participatory action research method that enables people to define for themselves and others, including policymakers, what is worth remembering and what needs to be changed. It is a multistep process that combines photography, research, group interaction, storytelling, and social activism. The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project is an ongoing initiative throughout the State to promote advocacy, education, and community-based research in children’s mental health.
The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Projectis a youth and family advocacy component of the SAGE System of Care. The Wyoming SAGE System of Care is a 6-year System of Care initiative funded by SAMHSA and awarded to the Wyoming Department of Health’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Division.
Children with mental health needs and their families experience discrimination, rejection and isolation. Mental health stereotypes perpetuate stigma and limit the potential of Wyoming’s youth and families. Photovoice assumes that the individuals behind the lens have the richest knowledge of their experiences and are the best persons to convey this very personalized account of their lives.
The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Projectwas developed and based upon existing photovoice projects that have addressed other social issues and marginalized groups. After gaining approval from the University of Wyoming’s Institutional Review Board, a 15-session curriculum was developed. The program is divided into six stages: Photovoice Introduction, Audience Selection, Photo Expeditions, Storytelling, Data Analysis, and Exhibits and Presentations.
The Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Projectis currently in the third year of implementation with an additional 2 years in planning. To date, 99 individuals (63 youth and 36 adults) have participated in the project. This has included 17 Photovoice groups that have required 164 group meetings and 145 individual contacts/sessions. The Project is currently active in five counties throughout Wyoming. The results from the project have been presented at 10 professional conferences/gatherings, including 5 national, 2 regional, and 3 State presentations. The project has been highlighted in six publications, including Mental Health Weekly.
Additional Photovoice groups are currently being developed to target specific populations as a way to continue and expand the project.
For more information on the Wyoming SAGE Photovoice Project, contact Kent Becker, Director, Counselor Education Department, 1000 East University Avenue, Department 3374, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY 82071; phone: 307-766-3123; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.photovoicewyoming.com.