Perception Isn’t Always Reality: Mental Health

Through a $121,798, two-year, Think Big for Kids grant from YouthBridge Community Foundation, Story Stitchers is creating a series of public service announcements (PSAs) to help change the stigma around mental health care and provide information on accessing it.

Read the Youthbridge newsletter article HERE

Perception Isn’t Always Reality: Mental Health will reduce stigma of mental health care among Black youth in St. Louis City and County through the creation and dissemination of a public service announcement (PSA) campaign. The 24-month project will be led by 10 youth (ages 16-24) and 10 adult artist-mentors working in collaboration with health experts; community residents; and marketing, media, and communication professionals.

The resulting fact-based, peer-to-peer messaging will reach a wide audience through billboards and public transportation ads in North St. Louis City and County and social media and radio ads through the greater region. Youth are viewed as trusted messengers, driving regional change in knowledge and attitudes on mental illness and accessing mental health care.


Ten Youth Internships

Earn up to $1,400 each

$200 per month for 7 months

Project Timeline:

October 2024 through May 2025


16-25 years old and living in the St. Louis region. No experience needed.


Attendance and active participation in

Team meets weekly on Mondays from 5:00-8:00PM

October 1, 2023 through February 28, 2024

Plus 2 additional months in 2025 to be determined and participation in major project events.

Applications Accepted: August 14, 2023

On-Site Interviews and Auditions

by Appointment

Friday September 1 and Friday September 8, 6:00-9:00

at The Center:

at The Center, 3701 Grandel Sq, 1A, 63108



  • Saint Louis Story Stitchers does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran or national guard status, or any other factor prohibited by law in admission or access to, or treatment or employment in its programs and/or activities.
  • Saint Louis Story Stitchers is committed to ADA compliance. The Collective welcomes people with disabilities and subscribes to the goal of providing access to programs, services and facilities. The Collective’s goal is to integrate this philosophy into all activities: policies, guidelines, plans, budgets, funding proposals, meetings and outreach.

Branden Lewis, Story Stitchers Youth Artistic Coordinator


Chris Pendleton is Teaching Artist and Audio Engineer

Collaborative partner Matthew W. Kreuter, PhD, MPH, Kahn Family Professor of Public Health and Director, Health Communication Research Laboratory at the Institute of Public Health at Washington University in St. Louis wrote, “Story Stitchers works with and within the communities they serve using a collaborative approach between professional and youth artists. These collaborations produce works of extraordinary insight and vulnerability as artists reflect their own experiences and those of their peers and neighbors. Their work centers voices within the community using innovative approaches to storytelling. Story Stitchers has an extensive history of successful programming and collaborative impact that has positively engaged communities in St. Louis City and County.”

Socioeconomic status and mental health are intrinsically connected; improvement in one enables improvement in the other. This innovative PSA project can be easily replicated to tackle stigma, misinformation, and distrust contributing to many other problems facing youth.

Previous PSA Work by Saint Louis Story Stitchers:

For the CDC Foundation in 2022: Perception Isn’t Always Reality: Covid 19

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artist Collective’s Perception Isn’t Always Reality will engage BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) teen and young adult artists to reevaluate messages they may have received about COVID and vaccinations and to evaluate the sources of the information. Through their own brand of urban storytelling that involves collaborative work in hip hop music and krump dance, videography, photography, and podcasting, the artists will produce a challenging body of work for the public to experience on urban canvases such as the sides of city buses and on the airwaves.

For the St. Louis Violence Prevention Commission in 2022: SAFE! Team

Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective produced a PSA campaign to support public health and safety education to reduce unintentional shootings involving children and youth in St. Louis. According to 5 On Your Side data, 140 children under the age of 17 were victims of gun violence in 2022 in the St. Louis area of Missouri and Illinois. Eighteen of them died.