UW-superior Sparks Dialogue on Mental Health With ‘Waiting for Beds’ Exhibit


UW-Superior continues to emphasize mental wellness. Today, the Department of Social Work conducted a community conversation concerning mental health and Douglas County’s lack of crisis services.

The panel was held in the Kruk Gallery, which currently houses “Waiting for Beds,” Moira Villiard and Carla Hamilton’s collaborative art project. The artists see the exhibit as an opportunity to investigate “the tumultuous and vicious cycle of mental health crisis, public health, and the healthcare and social systems that are at odds in American society.”

“The reaction has been positive,” said Lynn Goerdt, a professor of social work. “It’s highly thought-provoking. I’ve come here with community members who attended the reception, with two separate classes of students, and with coworkers. Moira and Carla have done an excellent job in providing all of these varied viewpoints on situations and then giving us the time and space to analyze and react on our own.

The conversation brought together people with diverse experiences in mental health, such as counseling, advocacy, and research. One of the panelists, mental health advocate Chrissy Barnard, emphasized the power of art to heal and spark conversation.

“This is an important event today because it normalizes mental illness really in the community,” Barnard went on to say. “And it brings light to some of the challenges that the community experiences, like wait times and delays and the lack of services.”

Barnard stated that there are currently no in-patient services in Douglas County, which she is striving to alter. For the time being, however, persons in mental health crises may be stuck “waiting for beds” that do not exist in the first place.

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