As much as social media conceals, it also reveals. Behind expertly edited photos, when people take to their feeds, they share pieces of themselves with their friends, family and audience, even if it is only slight. Usually, these digitally catalogued moments depict joyous times: weddings, anniversaries, holidays, birthdays. However, it’s no secret that there’s much more going on behind the scenes. Chelsea Borruano’s goal is to bring that to light.
Amidst a feed of Photoshopped smiles and filtered backgrounds, the business development director with MESH posted about her struggles with mental health and her continued journey to happiness. “The response was crazy,” she explains. “So many people thanked me for making them not feel alone. It made me realize how many people aren’t getting the help they need.”
While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, this year the topic carries even more weight, as COVID-19 has taken hold of normal life. With people living in nearly constant fear and anxiety about not only contracting or spreading the virus but also the fate of their jobs and futures, Borruano says it’s never been more important to reach out and support one another.
She founded the You Aren’t Alone Project last year with an event that now seems far from conceivable under social distancing guidelines. Inviting artists of all disciplines to share their mental health journeys through paint, dance, poetry and more, the July 2019 exhibition was a wake-up call for awareness in the local area.
“Art is a powerful tool,” says Borruano. The You Aren’t Alone Project uses artistic expression to help members connect with one another.
Live video recording for WAFB morning show
July 22, 2019 at 7:33 AM CDT - Updated July 22 at 7:33 AM
Baton Rouge -- The You Aren’t Alone Project presents it's first Live Art Event, in partnership with Aetna Better Health Louisiana, on July 26 from 7-11 p.m. at Mid City Ballroom, 136 S Acadian Thruway, featuring a culmination of stories from people that are living with, or supporting someone living with, depression and anxiety all interpreted by local artists through visual and performance art⏤the pain, the loss, and the triumph.
The You Aren't Alone Project is a nonprofit organization dedicated to forming a social & physical network of ongoing support for mental health and wellness in Baton Rouge and surrounding communities so that no one ever has to feel alone. The project exists to encourage understanding, erase stigmas and to invest in building the right relationships that will continue moving this initiative forward.
Our vision is to be the platform that paves the way for mental and behavioral health in Louisiana to be treated and talked about in the same way as physical health.
This project will kick off the live art event with performances from Airseekers, Terreze Williams, Dane Monic, J Rees, Luisa Cantillo and more all interpreting stories through dance, music, acro movements, storytelling, poetry reading and so much more. These performances will also be translated into live art pieces by Jade Brady.
The space will be filled with visual art interpretations from talented local mixed media artists such as Cheri Fasy and Jade Brady, photographers, Chris Garcia and Jenn Ocken, sculptures by Betsy Seal-Eschete and Jennifer Carwile, paintings from Bibbit Robison, Lauren Clark, Tara Hebert and Lindsay Guidry, jewelry-making by Cabil Gibs and fiber art from Moon Dust Weavings.
We'll also be working with local behavioral health professionals such as Aetna Better Health Louisiana, Oceans Behavioral Health and Baton Rouge General to offer mental health resources and continue the conversation once we leave.
The event is free for ages 21 and older, however registration is required at youarenotaloneart.com/rsvp. Participants will enjoy small bites, drinks and entertainment throughout the night.
We are still looking for partners for the event, but, even more importantly, we'll need people to help us continue and expand on this project after the art show. You can learn more about the event at https://www.youarenotaloneart.com/.
Thank you to our partners, Aetna Better Health Louisiana, AIMCO, ISC, Mind Set Personal Training, JCW and HealthyBR.
Brian spoke with Chelsea Borruano to discuss the You Are Not Alone Project. The You Are Not Alone Project is a nonprofit organization focused on forming a social and physical support system for mental health in Baton Rouge. Chelsea talked about what the organization does and she explains what advancements they will make in the future. This project will kick off with a live art event held at Mid City Ballroom on July 26 from 7-11 p.m. Chelsea tells us that local artists will be there to interpret things such as depression and anxiety. They will also be working with behavioral health professionals to provide mental health resources. Hear the full interview here.
By Catherine Quant | June 7, 2019 at 10:34 AM CDT - Updated June 7 at 1:11 PMBATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A new Baton Rouge non-profit organization is kicking off a project surrounding the importance of mental health and wellness.
The You Aren’t Alone Project is dedicated to forming support groups for mental health in the Baton Rouge community. The project aims to show what living with depression and anxiety looks like and to treat mental health in the same way as physical health.
The project, partnering with Aetna Better Health, is kicking off with a live art show at the Mid City Ballroom on July 26. The event will include a variety of artists and stories of people living with depression and anxiety.
“It really did start off as just an event, a live art event, and now it’s become so much bigger than that,” said Chelsea Borruano, the event coordinator. “All the pieces are kind of like an interpretation of mental health struggles or stories that people have submitted about their journey through mental health.”
Local behavioral health professionals will also be available to offer mental health resources to attendees.
“The most important thing is I want everyone in that room to know when they leave there, that they are not alone in the struggle,” Borruano said.
The event is still accepting artist submissions and is looking for partners to help expand the conversation.
Country Roads Magazine: The YouAren'tAlone Project, Expressing the experiences of depression and anxiety through live art
What is remarkable about depression is that even though it affects over 18% of our population (forty million adults a year), the experience itself is remarkably isolating.
Baton Rouge's YouAren'tAlone Project hopes to break through that isolation, to talk about it in the open. For its inaugural event, a collective of local artists will present a body of diverse works depicting the stories of those suffering from anxiety and depression, literally showing what it looks like through visual, literary, and performing arts. Free for ages 21 and older. Refreshments will be provided. 7 pm–11 pm at Mid City Ballroom, 136 South Acadian Thwy.
By starting a conversation, the organization also hopes to start a community, a support network of survivors, those struggling, supporters, and everyone in between. Register for the Live Art Event, and learn more about the YouAren'tAlone Project at youarenotalone.com.
[Read more about the YouAren'tAlone Project in this story from our May 2019 issue.]
Seeking stories from people all around the world who are living with depression and anxiety
BY JORDAN LAHAYE
APRIL 24, 2019
Depression, anxiety, and mental health in general have steadily risen in the public consciousness—in fact, May is National Mental Health Awareness Month—but when it comes to the complexities of individual experiences, language can, at times, fall short. In hopes of giving people an alternative stage to tell their stories, Baton Rouge’s Chelsea Borruano is launching a new mental health awareness initiative called The YouAren’tAlone Project.
The idea presented itself to Borruano while she sat in the audience at the Manship Theatre this past March. Baton Rouge’s contemporary dance company, Of Moving Colors, was performing its latest production, Tell Me More, which spotlighted the personal stories of local community leaders and activists.
Borruano said the performance moved her and brought to mind her own experience in storytelling, how various opportunities to express herself and her own experiences—particularly with depression and anxiety—had helped her to work through them and to grow. Art as self-expression is a potent tool, she realized, for rooting out specific, complicated feelings—stories perhaps better communicated through movement, color, and sound.
In collaboration with twenty local artists, Borruano and her team are soliciting stories from people all around the world who are living with depression and anxiety. Together, the artists will create a series of performing and visual artworks to be presented at The YouAren’tAlone Live Art Event, which will be held on July 26 at Mid City Ballroom.
“We want to bring to life what these experiences look like, to give people a platform to tell their stories and to also raise awareness about mental health issues for people who don’t understand, but want to,” said Borruano. “A lot of the artists are using this as a way to deal with their own issues as well. It’s super collaborative and all encompassing.”
The project won’t end with the art, though. Borruano said that she wants to use this project to develop a network of support for survivors, those struggling, and supporters.
“I think mental health is something on a lot of people’s minds, and that a lot of people believe needs to be talked about, but the platform just hasn’t been presented just yet,” said Borruano. “With the rising art community we’ve seen in Baton Rouge, it felt right to marry the two.”
Until May 19, stories for The YouAren’tAlone Project can be submitted at youarenotaloneart.com/tell-my-story, and artists (including visual artists, musicians, songwriters, performers, photographers, dancers, writers, and more) can still sign up to participate by emailing Borruano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about the project and the upcoming event at youarenotaloneart.com.
by: Carly Laing
Posted: Apr 9, 2019 / 02:33 PM UTC / Updated: Apr 9, 2019 / 02:33 PM UTC
You Aren’t Alone Project bringing awareness to living with depression and anxiety.
You Aren’t Alone is a new project in the Capital City that highlights what it’s like to live with depression and anxiety and reminds those suffering that you are not alone in this battle.
Right now organizers are looking for people willing to share their story and have it displayed through art at an event on July, 26 at the Mid City Ballroom from 7:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Organizers are also seeking local artists interested in bringing these stories life.
For more information on the You Aren’t Alone Project or to learn how to be a part of this project click here.
The deadline for story application is May, 19.