Click here to read current and past editions of BHNews, an employee newsletter for Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living, Natchaug Hospital, Rushford and the behavioral health departments at Backus, MidState & HOCC.

November 2015:

Entries for the 2016 BrainDance Awards now being accepted

The Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital is sponsoring the 13th Annual BrainDance Awards, an academic and art competition designed to decrease the stigma of mental illness. The BrainDance Awards encourage high school students to gain knowledge about psychiatric diseases and develop a more tolerant and realistic perspective toward people with severe psychiatric problems. The competition also aims to promote students’ interest in careers in mental health care. To receive a BrainDance Award, a student must submit an academic project or an art project on themes related to severe mental illness.
The projects will be judged by expert clinicians and researchers in the field, based on:

  • Relevance to the issue of stigma
  • Creativity
  • Accuracy of information
  • Scientific rigor

Projects on any theme related to severe mental illness will be considered for an award. The categories are:  Academic, Art, and Mixed Media. The deadline for submissions is February 1, 2016 and the awards presentation will be held on April 21, 2016. For more information download the brochure or visit the BrainDance website.

Huckshorn, a leader in mental health reforms visits the IOL

Kevin Ann Huckshorn, a national leader and innovator in mental health reforms, gave a series of presentations on the use of restraints over a two-day visit to the IOL on November 19th and 20th. Huckshorn is credited with overhauling and reforming practices within psychiatric facilities in Delaware as head of the state’s Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health before retiring last year. She talked about her approach to minimizing the use of restraints though her Six Core Strategies in a series of presentations and panel discussions that were open to all staff across the Behavioral Health Network.

Dr. Volkow, a leader in the field of substance abuse visits the IOL

Nora D. Volkow, MD, who has been Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) at the National Institutes of Health for the last 12 years, gave a special presentation on her work as a leader in the field of drug abuse and addiction at the IOL on Thursday, November 19, 2015. Dr. Volkow has played an instrumental and pioneering role in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the brain, furthering the public understanding of addiction as a medical condition requiring clinical and psychiatric treatment. As a research psychiatrist and scientist, Dr. Volkow pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs. She gave a presentation on her work at a special meeting of Institute of Living clinicians, educators and researchers, followed by a luncheon in her honor.


October 2015:

Anxiety Disorders Center News

The Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living recently received a gift from the Hartford Hospital Auxiliary to purchase equipment to measure psychophysiological responding in their clinic and research programs.

Dr. David A. Brent, receives IOL’s prestigious Burlingame Award

On October 21, 2015, the IOL held its 28th Annual Burlingame Award Dinner to honor David A. Brent, MD, the 2015 recipient of the C. Charles Burlingame Award for excellence in behavioral health research and patient care. The event at the Hartford Golf Club drew more than 230 people who celebrated Dr. Brent and his achievements in the field of teen suicide and the work being done at the IOL over the past year to further its mission of world-class psychiatric care. Dr. Brent, who is Academic Chief for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, as well as Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics and Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, spoke at the gathering about the issues that contribute to teen suicide in the United States, and the will that is needed to prevent them.

The IOL's Dr. Saunders presents at prestigious webinar

On October 21, 2015, Laura Saunders, PsyD, ABPP, a staff psychologist at the IOL, who serves as clinical coordinator of the IOL’s innovative program for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning) youth, discussed her program at a prestigious national webinar, sponsored by the Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Health.The IOL’s LGBTQ program, part of its wide-ranging and comprehensive Young Adult Services Program, is the first of its kind in Connecticut and one of only two in the Northeast. Dr. Saunders’ presentation, called “LGBT Identity Development and Self-Acceptance in Young Adults:  A Program Model,” focused on the distinctive needs and struggles of LGBTQ young adults, and services and treatment that can help them grow comfortable with their identity and cope with co-occurring mental health issues.


September 2015:

IOL to hold several events during World Suicide Prevention Week

As part of World Suicide Prevention Week, The Institute of Living will hold several events from September 8-11th. Please click here to view the complete list of events as well as registration information. On Thursday, September 10th, in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, there will be a conference titled Suicide Prevention in Young Adults. This presentation will provide a review of college student suicide and related behaviors and discuss a model of suicide prevention developed by The JED Foundation and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. Click here for the program schedule and registration information.


August 2015:

Dr. Saili Kalaskar joins the Child and Adolescent faculty staff

The Child and Adolescent Division of the IOL recently welcomed Dr. Saili Kalaskar to join their faculty. Dr. Kalaskar is originally from India and received her medical education at Grant Medical College in Mumbai, India. She also participated in some volunteer and clinical work as well as research, in both India and in the United States, including in the Burlingame Center at the IOL. Dr. Kalaskar's Adult Psychiatry training and Child/Adolescent Psychiatry fellowship were at the IOL. Her faculty responsibilities will include attending physician in the partial hospital program and in the TOPS extended day program, as well as helping to provide psychiatric coverage to the CCMC Emergency Department. Dr. Kalaskar will also participate in teaching within the Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program.

Anxiety Disorders Center News

Staff from the Anxiety Disorders Center presented new research findings at the International OCD Foundation conference which was held July 31st-August 2nd in Boston, MA. The titles of their presentations are listed below.

  • Diefenbach, G. J., Hallion, L. S., Tolin, D. F., Goethe, J. W., Zertuche, L., & Assaf, M. (2015, July). Using Transcranial Magnetic Simulation to Improve Value-Based Decision Making in Hoarding Disorder: A Case Study. In K. Timpano (Chair). An Update on Research Investigating the Core Features and Risk Factors for Hoarding Disorder.
  • Hallion, L. S., Wooton, B., Tolin, D. F., Assaf, M., Goethe, J., & Diefenbach, G. J. (2015, July). Differential association of emotion regulation impairments with OCD and GAD. In S. Blakey (Chair), More than Just Anxiety: Intolerance of Internal Experiences in OCD.


July 2015:

The IOL's Young Adult Services wins Program of the Year award

The Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare gave Hartford Hospital/Institute of Living their Program of the Year award to the IOL's Young Adult Services program. The award was presented at The Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare's 47th Annual Conference on July 18th.

IOL to launch program for perinatal mood disorders

The Institute of Living received a $300,000 grant from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to launch a program to help those suffering from mood disorders during and after pregnancy. The three-year grant was awarded in July, and the IOL hopes to have the program in place and operational by the fall. The program is meant to treat mothers or fathers who may be experiencing a peripartum or postpartum mood disorder connected to the birth of a child. The grant affords an expansion of services in the West Grad Adult Outpatient clinic to designate a clinician to conduct groups or outreach. This will be in conjunction with psychopharmacology services and group therapy programs already in place.


June 2015:

Steve Larcen, Behavioral Health Network President, receives the 2015 Grassroots Champion Award

Stephen W. Larcen, PhD, president of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, has been named recipient of the 2015 Grassroots Champion Award from the American Hospital Association and Connecticut Hospital Association, recognizing those around the country who have done the most to work with elected officials to effect positive change for the health of our communities.

Click here to view a video message from Rich Umbdensock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association, recognizing the work that Stephen W. Larcen, PhD, has done on behalf of mental health patients in Connecticut.

IOL selected to attend the Zero Suicide Academy

The IOL has been selected as one of twenty mental health organizations across the country and internationally, to attend the Zero Suicide Academy, which will be held June 24-25th, in Baltimore. The purpose of the Academy is to serve as a training mechanism to screen and assess for suicide risk and implement interventions across all disciplines to significantly reduce events. The IOL was the first in the state to be accepted and will partner with the state to disseminate this information.

IOL Psychiatrist-in-Chief, Harold I.Schwartz, MD receives HH Medical Staff award

Dr. Harold (Hank) Schwartz was presented with the John K. Springer Humanitarian Award at the annual Hartford Hospital Board and Medical Staff Spring Event on June 3rd. The award cited “his extraordinary qualities of compassion, civility, vision and integrity that set an example for all future generations of caregivers at Hartford Hospital.”


May 2015:

APA Presentations

IOL researchers will make three presentations at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. This year’s meeting will place at the Toronto Convention Centre in Toronto, Canada from May 16-20, 2015. Click here to view the titles and dates of these presentations.

Dr. Linda Schwartz to be honored at the Annie Goodrich Nursing Lecture on May 7th

Dr. Linda Schwartz, RN, MSN, DrPH, FAAN will be The Institute of Living’s 4th Annie Goodrich Award winner. The IOL honors the awardee during Nurses Week every year through the lecture given at Grand Rounds, which this year will be held on May 7, 2015. The title of her lecture will be “ Healing the Wounds of War”. Dr. Schwartz was confirmed as Assistant Secretary of Veterans Affairs for Policy and Planning for President Obama by the Senate on September 16, 2014. In this role she oversees the Office of Policy and Planning’s mission to serve as the VA’s principal advisor on all matters of policy and organizational strategy, providing VA decision makers with the advice, counsel, and support necessary to fulfill the VA mission. Prior to her confirmation, she served as State Veterans Affairs Commissioner of Connecticut since 2003 and was known for her strong advocacy for homeless veterans, veteran suicide prevention, and women veteran issues.

Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program announces new Co-Chief fellows

Drs. Manpreet Kaur and Neil King have been announced as the Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program's Co-Chief fellows for the 2015-2016 year. Dr. Kaur completed her medical studies in India at the Government Medical College Patiala and did her Adult Psychiatry training at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, New York. Dr. King completed his medical studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. He did a pediatric residency at Oregon Health and Science University and is a board-certified pediatrician with past experience in private pediatric practice. Dr. King's adult psychiatric training has been at the Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, MA.


April 2015:

Dr. Hank Schwartz to present at Real Art Ways on April 29th

Harold I. Schwartz, MD, IOL Psychiatrist-in-Chief, will present a talk entitled "The Disconnected Among Us: Adam Lanza and the Mind of the Mass Shooter" on Wednesday, April 29, 2015 from 7-8:30PM at Real Art Ways at 56 Arbor Street in Hartford. This interactive event is part of the ongoing National Dialogue on Mental Health Series sponsored by the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.The public is invited to attend, ask questions, and learn more about mental health and substance abuse.

The IOL’s Dr. Saunders is Hartford Hospital’s 2015 Co-Employee of the Year

Institute of Living psychologist Laura Saunders, Psy.D., ABPP, has been named one of two 2015 Employees of the Year for Hartford Hospital. Dr. Saunders has been a Hartford HealthCare employee for 25 years, with expertise in child psychopathology, behavior management, child development, mood disorders and family therapy. Dr. Saunders is the clinical coordinator of a LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning/Queer) specialty track in Young Adult Services at The Institute of Living, and has been involved professionally with LGBTQ youth for more than 20 years. Dr. Saunders received the award on Wednesday, April 29th, along with Mary-Kate Eanniello, MSN, RN, OCN, a nurse educator in the cancer program.

The IOL is sponsoring the 12th annual BrainDance Awards on April 23rd

On Thursday, April 23, 2015 the 12th annual BrainDance Awards will be presented in the Commons Building at the IOL. Fourteen students and one teacher from schools across Connecticut will have their work honored at this event. Over 250 submissions were received and judged. All will be on display to view. The BrainDance Awards is a state-wide high school academic, artistic, and mixed media competition that encourages high school students to learn about psychiatric diseases and develop a more tolerant and realistic perspective toward people with severe psychiatric problems. The competition also aims to promote students’ interest in careers in mental health care. BrainDance attendees will have the opportunity to tour the IOL’s Myths, Minds and Medicine museum and neuro-imaging research center, and sit in on a lecture from Otto Wahl, Ph.D., Department of Psychology at the University of Hartford entitled: “Respect, Understanding and Support: Antidotes for Stigma.” Click here to view the program schedule and the names of the award recipients.


March 2015:

IOL Nurse Director, Ellen Blair, recently presented at the University of Saint Joseph

Ellen W. Blair, APRN, NEA-BC was the keynote speaker at the University of Saint Joseph's Nursing Research Day and annual Nightingale Lecture on Thursday, March 12, 2015. Her lecture was entitled:  “A Personal Journey of Leadership in Psychiatric Nursing”.

The IOL's Nancy Hubbard receives first HH Gold Medal Manager Award

Nancy Hubbard, LCSW, director of Outpatient and Rehabilitative Services at The Institute of Living, has been named Hartford Hospital’s first Gold Medal Manager awardee under a new recognition program highlighting leaders who demonstrate the H3W leadership behaviors. Hubbard was recognized for her leadership qualities at the quarterly HHC Leadership Forum on March 6th. In her current position, Hubbard oversees 25 IOL employees and 15 volunteers within the FRC, the Department of Psychiatric Vocational Services and other outpatient programs. This provides many opportunities for her to mentor others.

March 5th's Grand Rounds to feature NIDA Director Nora Volkow, MD

On March 5, 2015 the IOL's Grand Rounds will feature Nora Volkow, MD, Director of the National Institutes of Drug Abuse (NIDA), a division of the National Institutes of Health. She is the 2013 recipient of the IOL’s distinguished Burlingame Award, and her work has been instrumental in demonstrating that drug addiction is a disease of the human brain. According to her NIDA biography, Dr. Volkow, “pioneered the use of brain imaging to investigate the toxic effects and addictive properties of abusable drugs.” Her Grand Rounds presentation is entitled “Imaging Drug-Effects in Human Physiology” and it will be held in the Hartford Room of the Commons Building from 12–1:15PM.


February 2015:

IOL researcher Dr. Godfrey Pearlson receives prestigious national award

Dr. Godfrey Pearlson, founding director of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at The Institute of Living, received the 2015 Stanley Dean Award for Research in Schizophrenia from the American College of Psychiatrists (ACP). Dr. Pearlson received this honor for this lifetime achievements in schizophrenia research, which the ACP said constitutes a “major contribution to the understanding and treatment of schizophrenic disorders.” Dr. Pearlson’s career has centered on studying the intricacies of the brain to determine whether there are biological differences between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The Stanley Dean Award for Research in Schizophrenia has been awarded yearly since 1964. The award ceremony took place on February 21st at the ACP’s annual conference in California. As part of the award, Dr. Pearlson presented a lecture about his work, entitled “Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder: one syndrome, two syndromes or more?”

Anxiety Disorders Center News

David Tolin, Ph.D., Director of the Anxiety Disorders Center, gave a day-long master clinician workshop on cognitive-behavioral therapy at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN on February 16, 2015.

The Talking Cure exhibit stops at Real Art Ways in Hartford

From February 12th through May 25th Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living and the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network welcome The Talking Cure, a traveling exhibit by New York artist Melissa Stern, to Real Art Ways in Hartford. Taking its name from Sigmund Freud’s description of psychoanalysis, Stern’s show consists of 12 sculptures, each with its own narrative created by writers and brought to life as monologues by actors. An artist’s reception for the show will be held on Saturday, March 7th from 4-6PM. Click here for more information.

Grand Rounds revisits the Sandy Hook tragedy

The IOL's Grand Rounds held on Thursday, February 12th was a standing room only event as IOL Psychiatrist-in-Chief Harold I. Schwartz, MD, examined some of the lessons learned about the life of Adam Lanza. He presented facts regarding the “cascading issues that led to disaster in December 2012” and theorized about the mindset of others that leads to such tragedies in his presentation entitled “Adam Lanza and the Mind of the Mass Shooter”. When introducing his presentation, Dr. Schwartz said, “This is my attempt to think about mental illness and these kinds of violent events because nothing that we have out there, nothing that we have to explain mental illness, is sufficient to explain the capacity of individuals to shoot this way.”


January 2015:

The IOL's Dr. Durst recently interviewed on CT-NPR

On January 26, 2015 Linda S. Durst, MD Medical Director/Vice Chief, Department of Psychiatry, IOL/HH was interviewed on CT-NPR regarding the use of antipsychotics in nursing facilities. Click here to listen to the podcast.

Borderline personality disorder expert, Dr. John Gunderson, presents at the IOL

John G. Gunderson, MD, was the honored guest presenter at a series of events, including Grand Rounds at the IOL on Thursday, January 15, 2015. Dr. Gunderson is a Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, Director at McLean Hospital’s Borderline Center and an acknowledged expert on the topic of borderline personality disorder.