The Me2/ ("me, too") Orchestra was launched in 2011 in Burlington, Vermont, USA as the only classical music organization in the world created for individuals dealing with mental illnesses and those who support them. This non-auditioned group serves an important social mission for both its members and the greater community. In each rehearsal, the assumption is that members come "as they are" knowing that they will be supported and accepted in a stigma-free environment. In the greater community, Me2/ combats the negative stigma attached to mental illness by performing concerts in a variety of non-traditional venues, such as veterans’ hospitals, youth centers, and correctional facilities, as well as more traditional concert spaces. These performances showcase the musical abilities of people living with and without mental illness and demonstrate how much people can accomplish working together despite personal challenges. In this article, members of Me2/ and the community share how their lives have been positively impacted by Me2/, its mission, and its model of a fully integrated community.
Keywords: Mental illness, music, stigma, interviews.