COLDWATER – In a unique collaboration between healthcare and the arts, ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital, Pines Behavioral Health, and Tibbits Summer Theatre will bring the dramatic rock musical “Next to Normal” to the Tibbits stage for six performances September 6 to 14, 2019.

Mental Health issues affect more American families than can be accurately measured. It is a disease which is highly misunderstood and filled with stigma. Theatre has long been a means of bringing attention to issues, dispelling stigmas or at least opening up dialogues. According to Randy DeGroot, President of ProMedica Coldwater Regional Hospital, “Bringing this play to the community is hoped to reduce the fear and stigma of mental illness – a biological disease - that requires the same level of treatment and follow up as any other health condition.”

Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for drama as well as three 2009 Tony awards including Best Musical Score, “Next to Normal” is a very real depiction of the effects of mental illness, both for the affected and their families. Pines and ProMedica have teamed with Tibbits to present the show as a means of opening the dialogue on the very real issues of mental health. Whereas newspaper articles and public town hall forums can convey awareness information, watching the lives unfold during this play creates a much deeper understanding of mental illness.

According to Sue Germann, Chief Executive Officer for Pines, “Through this artistic and entertaining vehicle we can bring awareness to the mental health issue and deepen the dialogue of a very serious biological disease.”

One five Americans experience a mental health condition; for one in 25 the condition is serious mental illness, yet less than half receive the needed treatment. Among the barriers is lack of education or awareness and social stigma. Both of these barriers can be addressed through this artistic and entertaining professional show.

ProMedica is a mission-based, not-for-profit integrated healthcare organization headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. Driven by its mission to improve health and well-being, ProMedica has been nationally recognized for its advocacy programs and efforts to address social determinants of health. Pines, as the Community Mental Health Authority for Branch County, specializes in assisting those with serious mental illness such as Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Severe Anxiety and other brain conditions that impair functional abilities due to the severity of symptoms. Tibbits has been producing professional theatre for 55 years and has established its reputation for quality productions.

This collaborative activity is sponsored by ProMedica with additional support from Pines. The performance also received support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs Minigrant Program administered by the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo.

Next to Normal will be presented September 6, 7, 13, 14 at 7:30 pm and September 8 and 12 at 2 pm. Theatre has long been a means of bringing attention to issues, dispelling stigmas or at least opening up dialogues. To encourage the open dialogue each performance will include informal discussions and Talkbacks to engage audience members in the dialogue. A Talkback is a discussion of the show with the performers and others involved. Discussions will include health care professionals available for questions, information and assistance.

The goal for ProMedica and Pines is to promote the health and well-being of the community. With the involvement of Tibbits and this shared experience of experiencing Next to Normal, the three organizations hope to build important connections with all of the people involved with or attending the show.

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