Mental Tapas: Reframing Mental Illness

Brain Week RI

Cure Alliance is holding its first Mental Tapas event in Providence, Rhode Island (where we are based), during Brain Week RI, which is the Rhode Island celebration of international Brain Awareness Week.

Brain Awareness Week is a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. We believe one very important benefit of brain research will be better understanding and treatments for mental illnesses, so Cure Alliance has organized the first Brain Week RI to promote brain research in general, and our own Mental Tapas event to promote better understanding of the brain disorders called mental illnesses.

Mental Tapas

Mental Tapas is named after the small, varied appetizer dishes served in Spain, and will feature six short, varied presentations offering different perspectives on mental illness. It’s an evening of personal stories, talks about science, song, and dance, all reshaping how we think about mental illnesses.


Robin Cunningham is a retired corporate executive and entrepreneur, and a mental illness advocate. He serves on the board of trustees of NAMI New Jersey and the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Mental Health Stigma among other positions. He is co-founder of Cure Alliance for Mental Illness. Mr. Cunningham has had schizophrenia since the age of 13.

Kafui Dzirasa is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University, where he combines his engineering background, medical training, and community experience on research to understand the neural circuits that underlie mental illnesses like bipolar disorder.

Sokeo Ros is founder and director of Case Closed! dance troupe, and directs the hip-hop dance program at Everett: Company, Stage and School in Providence, Rhode Island. He has taught many master classes in universities and has been a creator and performer in three Everett touring pieces, including BrainStorm.

Linda Carpenter is a psychiatrist and researcher at Butler Hospital and Brown University, where she studies the biology and treatment of mood disorders. She is a pioneer in the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation as a noninvasive treatment for depression.

Alyssa Brown is a young mother and advocate for mental health issues here in Rhode Island. She speaks from the heart on these issues as they have transformed her own life. Alyssa will be sharing her story and what she hopes to see done differently in the area of treatment for those with brain disorders.

Cheyenne Isom is a performer in Case Closed! dance troupe and a teaching assistant at Everett Company Stage and School.

Please find more information about Brain Week RI and Mental Tapas at the Brain Week RI website.