June 02, 2016

By Kyira Hauer

Over time and through the Build It Together initiative, NAMI Wisconsin has worked to become an increasingly more inclusive and culturally competent organization. In these efforts, we found that truly building bridges and establishing ourselves as a trusted organization within different cultural groups takes time and a curiosity to get to know other organizations and people.

When the idea of honoring National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month was raised, we wanted to come up with a fun and engaging activity for a variety of cultural groups. Our idea was a flash mob—Diversity in Motion. What better way to bring people together and spread awareness about minority mental health than to have a giant dance party on the capital square in downtown Madison in front of thousands of people?

“I joined the flash mob because…there’s a lot of discrimination and stereotypes about those who have mental illness. People need to know that people with mental illness are just like everyone else, and they have their own hopes and dreams,” said a Diversity in Motion dancer.

Over 50 people, wearing bright green shirts, have danced in the flash mobs in the last two years. Alongside the dancers, people handed out flyers, engaged with the audience and filmed the experience to share on social media. Each year, the fun flash mob dances bring new faces to the NAMI family and get the message into the community that talking about mental health isn’t scary.  We can all come together to support mental health because it affects us all somehow.

Are you looking for a new way to engage your community in a conversation about mental health? Why not join us and try a flash mob in your community? Here are some tips to get started:

  • Reach out to minority groups and organizations so you can get dancers from all walks of life to infuse their own style.
  • Someone will always dislike the song you pick, so just try to find one that is appropriate for people of all ages and cultural identities. Be sure the beat isn’t too fast.
  • Find a choreographer who has done flash mobs before because these types of performances are very different from other performance pieces.
  • Allow people to come to a few rehearsals (work with choreographer to find space) and record a video of the dance so people can learn the steps online in their own time.
  • Tell people to arrive about five minutes early and, if they wear matching shirts, cover them until the music starts.
  • Pick someone who can get the crowd hyped up while you’re doing the dance.

Feel free to contact us for more information about how to get started or to hear more about our experience at [email protected] or 608-268-6000.


Kyira Hauer has worked as the associate director at NAMI Wisconsin for two and a half years. A graduate student in counseling psychology, Kyira is interested in both the clinical and community sides of supporting someone struggling with a mental health issue. She hopes to combine her non-profit work with her clinical practice over time. 

Submit To The NAMI Blog

We’re always accepting submissions to the NAMI Blog! We feature the latest research, stories of recovery, ways to end stigma and strategies for living well with mental illness. Most importantly: We feature your voices.


NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).