McLaughlin Research Institute is pleased to host country music artist and mental health advocate Jason DeShaw’s performance in Great Falls. Both MRI and the Center for Mental Health Research and Recovery at Montana State University in Bozeman are working to discover new ways to prevent or treat brain diseases that range from Alzheimer’s and related dementias to depression, schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder. We join Jason in his battle to end the stigma associated with mental illness and to encourage those afflicted to start on the path to recovery.
Mental illness and addiction are epidemics in our society. Many people face their struggles in isolation, afraid to speak to others about their experiences. Open and public communication about mental illness and addiction can reduce stigma associated with both illnesses, and can also encourage individuals to seek help.
Meet Jason DeShaw
Jason DeShaw is a 33-year old national award-winning mental health speaker and country singer. Jason lives with bipolar disorder and alcoholism; he has worked to develop coping mechanisms that help him meet each day with a spirit of gratitude and a desire to help others find relief from their emotional pain.
As an accomplished recording artist and musical performer from rural Montana, Jason turned to music as his way to deal with his own mental illness. What has emerged from Jason’s journey is a performance that is nationally acclaimed.
Finding Serenity in the Storm
For the past decade Jason has toured across 35 states, Canada, and Europe singing original country music. In 2010, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and alcoholism. Since then, he has advocated for mental health and addiction recovery as both a speaker and singer.
His presentation, Serenity in the Storm, combines his powerful story of recovery with original songs of hope. His audiences range from the lay public attending a performance hall event, to those in a forensic unit of a state psychiatric hospital, to officers at the state Law Enforcement Academy.
Serenity in the Storm is a powerful presentation in which Jason speaks personally of his lived experiences, interwoven with original music that soundtrack his life’s struggles and triumphs. The event is honest and poignant. It provides audiences with insight into the challenges of living with mental illness and addiction, hope for those who are in despair over their own or a loved one’s struggle, and encouragement to seek help. Jason’s presentation directly addresses suicide, an epidemic in America.
Jason DeShaw and Serenity in the Storm are Nationally Acclaimed and Locally Celebrated
Jason received the 2014 Champions Award in Washington D.C. from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), recognizing an individual with a mental illness who reduces stigma by “exhibiting courage, leadership and service on behalf of people with mental illness.”
“This is a young man who has a powerful message and a truly unique medium to communicate that message with his original music, beautiful voice, and compelling lyrics. His musical story of bipolar disorder, hope and recovery is not easy-listening, it’s profound-listening and courageous-telling.”
– Dr. Mark Komrad, Johns Hopkins Hospital, NAMI Psychiatrist of the year award
“Jason has an incredible musical gift that he combines with a powerful message of hope for personal recovery from mental illness and a broad victory over mental illness stigma.”
-Matt Kuntz, Executive Director, NAMI Montana
“I wanted to thank you again for the tremendous gift you provided to the community at our event. It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever witnessed in relation to helping people understand the essence and importance of mental disorders.”
-Dr. Matt Byerly, University of Texas – Southwestern Medical Center
This spring, Jason will embark on a 10-city tour across Montana reaching out to rural and urban communities on the topics of mental health and addiction recovery. He will also be presenting in schools along the way. Our nation’s youth are of particular concern, as we know that early diagnosis is critical to successful recovery. This tour is presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana and The Center for Mental Health Research & Recovery at Montana State University.
April 14 – Butte
April 16 – Great Falls
April 21 – Havre
April 23 – Glasgow
April 28 – Sidney
April 29 – Miles City
May 1 – Billings
May 4 – Helena
May 6 – Bozeman
May 7 – Missoula
Grammy award winner, Kostas Lazarides, is producing Jason’s next album; a recovery album with songs of hope. Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker, Justin Lubke, is currently working on a documentary film about Jason’s life as an advocate for recovery.
Meeting the Need
Jason is intimately familiar with the cultural and environmental influences that contribute to America’s high incidence of mental illness, addiction, and suicide. Jason’s presentation is unique in both its persona and message; when he openly acknowledges that he has both mental illness and alcoholism, people listen.
With Jason’s image and musical talent, Serenity in the Storm appeals to audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Serenity in the Storm gives hope to those who need it by reducing stigma and opening the door to understanding.
Richard Opper – Director, Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services: 1.406.444.5622
Gary Mihelish – Board Member, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1.406.458.9738
Leo C. Dutton – Sheriff, Lewis & Clark County: 1.406.447.8235