Their View: Stars of Light group uses arts to educate about mental illness


Inspiration — that’s how we would describe the Stars of Light. They are an outreach arm of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Northern Illinois that uses dramatic and visual arts to promote recovery, educate the public about mental illness and reduce the stigma that surrounds it. Participants include people with mental illness and other community members.

The Stars of Light began in 1995 as a traveling theater troupe, a program of Janet Wattles Center, and became affiliated with Rosecrance when Janet Wattles merged with that organization in 2011. They partnered with NAMI Northern Illinois in 2013. NAMI Northern Illinois and the Stars of Light share the same mission — improving the quality of life of individuals with mental illness and their families through support, education and advocacy.

Both NAMI Northern Illinois and Stars of Light are volunteer-driven and serve individuals, family members, health care providers, professionals, elected officials and the general public. All NAMI services are free, including educational courses, support groups, books and brochures. Stars of Light activities are also free and are underwritten by donations and grants.

The group has evolved from being a live theater troupe to a comprehensive program that includes all artistic venues and promotes recovery from mental illness through inclusion in the arts. Achievements include performing…