NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) – Late last month, nine “mood walls” showed up all over Nashville, each one with 1,000 buttons naming 21 different emotions.
An idea by Insight Counseling Centers, the project was an offer to Nashvillians to take one and literally wear their emotion.
Counselors wanted to see what they could tell by which buttons were taken. They said all of them being taken is telling them something too.
“We live in a culture that mostly values strength and happiness and pleasantness and doesn’t know what to do with brokenness and sadder emotions,” said Vanessa Londino of Insight. “The whole intention was to begin a dialogue of emotional life and emotional health in the Nashville area.”
“It’s just nice to be able to show what you’re feeling so if someone came up to you, they’d know you’re feeling upset,” said Amber Nelson, a resident passing one of the walls.
At the center of the mood walls is the message, “Hey Nashville, how are y’all feelin’?”
“The idea was to create a space where people could openly express how they feel, what’s really going on,” said Taylor Cochran of Insight.
What counselors didn’t expect was for all the buttons at all the spots to go so fast.
“Within 48 to 72 hours, the boards were clean,” said Chris O’Rear of Insight. “That said to us people are anxious to talk about how they’re feeling, and they’re willing to share the variety of emotions that they have.”
Representatives for Insight said they are still counting the boost in calls since the walls went up. They said there is not a common problem among those reaching out, but they are seeing an increased willingness to talk about things that aren’t always easy.
“The word that springs to mind is de-stigmatization,” Londino said. “There’s a stigma around mental illness. There’s a stigma to mental distress.”
Counselors said they’re doing what they can to work against that stigma, even though simple words that capture the human experience.
Also part of the project, the Paramore Agency has created an app that lights a billboard at Church Street and 5th Avenue with the emotion it’s being told by users.
There is a bring back the buttons fundraising campaign currently underway to get enough buttons to cover the mood walls again. For more on the mood walls, click here.
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