The Players

The Mental Health Players is an interactive improv group comprised of community volunteers who perform throughout the year for civic and/or religious organizations, senior groups, schools and more. The Players’ model was formed over 30 years ago as a vehicle to educate the broader Nassau County community about the myths and realities of mental illnesses. The Players perform realistic vignettes about mental health challenges, giving the audience a dynamic opportunity to learn about the different faces of mental illness and the reality of stigma.

Each hour long performance consists of three vignettes, followed by a guided conversation in which the Players remain in character to answer the audience’s questions and concerns.  The goal of each performance is to normalize mental illness and begin to reduce the stigma and discrimination that people with mental illnesses face on a daily basis. Best yet, no performance of the Mental Health Players is ever the same twice, so even if you’ve seen a performance before, the next time will be completely new!

The Players perform at no cost, however, a suggested donation of $50 is gladly accepted for each performance. The Players’ performances are scheduled by appointment only.  To arrange for the Players to perform for your organization, please email Rachel Priest, Community Health Educator, at

Want to become a player?


Nearly 1 in 5 adults, more than 18%, in the U.S. experience mental illness in a given year.

5-6% of American adults have a serious mental illness; about 2% have disorders that are long-term and disabling, contributing to very high rates of unemployment and poor living conditions.

More than 450 million people around the world live with mental illnesses.

20-25% of Americans have a diagnosable mental and/or substance use disorder in any given year: 6.8 million people with an addiction have a mental illness.

There were approximately 20.6 million people in the United States over the age of 12 with an addiction in 2011, excluding tobacco.

Over 3 million people in 2011 received treatment for their addiction.

The Long Island Coalition estimated that there are approximately 3,000 homeless people in Nassau County and 64 of them are living on the streets.

30-40% of homeless adults and 15-20% of people in jails and prisons in the United States have a serious mental illness. This is often accompanied by substance abuse problems in both these populations.

As many as 10% of children have a serious emotional disturbance, contributing to school failure and other serious problems.

Just over 20 percent of children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental disorder.

It is estimated that 1 in 68 children in the US have autism.

As the number of older adults doubles over the next two decades so will the number of older adults with mental disordersThis includes 5.5 million older adults who currently have Alzheimer’s disorder or other dementia. Without advances in prevention, this will rise to 11 million older adults with dementia by 2050.

11 to 20% of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom) have been diagnosed with PTSD.

30% of soldiers develop mental problems within 3 to 4 months of being home.

Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (aka PTSD, an anxiety disorder that follows experiencing a traumatic event) are the most common mental health problems faced by returning troops.