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JEFFERSON CITY - The Fulton State Hospital opened its exhibit "Covered in Hope" on Saturday which seeks to raise awareness of the stigmas associated with mental illness. 

Tonya Hays-Martin has worked for the Fulton State Hospital for 29 years. She said the cause is close to her heart because it showcases the human side of mental illness. 

"We want to reduce stigma so that more people can get the help they need, without being fearful of the labels and the stigmas that surround mental illness," Hays-Martin said.

Every year the Overcoming Stigmas team of which Hays-Martin is a part of does an event like this. This year it is being held at the Rozier Gallery located on the Jefferson Landing State Historic Site.  

Every client in the hospital had the opportunity to engage in the project. The common themes of this year's exhibit are hope and recovery. 

"I think its really a thereaputic experience for the clients to create this art work and to be able to have a voice," Hays-Martin said. 

The exhibit offers an array of art: sketches, mixed media and creative models. 

"So many times we hear about mental illness and it doesn't have a face and although this exhibit won't give you the opportunity to see the patient's faces. You can see a little bit of their hearts in their artwork," Hays-Martin said.