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May 16, 2024 30 mins
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(00:01):
Welcome to Pulse of the Region,brought to you by the Metro Hertford Alliance.
The Metro Hertford Alliance collaborates with investorsand partners to elevate the Hertford region
through economic development work, convening thecommunity and providing chamber support for the City
of Hartford. Learn more about theirmission and how to get involved at Metrohartford
dot com. Pulse of the Regionis produced in partnership with oak Hill.

(00:23):
Oakhill was originally founded as a schoolfor the blind in eighteen ninety three.
Oak Hill has provided holistic, personcentered services for individuals with disabilities for over
one hundred and thirty years. Withempowerment and independence as its guiding principles.
Oakhill works in partnership with the individualsit serves to provide residential education and enrichment

(00:44):
opportunities. Learn more at oakillct dotorg. Now here's your host for Pulse
of the Region, Kate Ballman.Hello, Hello, and welcome to Pulse
of the Region, the show wherewe highlight all of the incredible, wonderful
things happening here throughout the greater HartfordRegion. I'm Kate Bauman here today in
the iHeartMedia studios. I always loveto say the candy Cane building in our

(01:07):
lovely capital city of Hartford. Todaywe are getting the pulse about Mental Health
Awareness month. So it is themonth of May and you may be noticing,
but things are lighting up green tospread awareness about mental health awareness.
We have three guests whose organizations arenot only participating but really leading initiatives throughout
our communities throughout the state of Connecticut. So I'm thrilled to have them here

(01:29):
with me today. So with that, I will introduce each of them.
First, he is with Mental HealthConnecticut. He is their president and CEO,
Luis Perez. Luis, welcome toPulse of the Region. Thank you
very much. Great to be here, of course, and I think I
said the name right, so Ididn't want to go on your dark list.
We're talking about you. Good.You never know where my pronunciations where
I end up at the beginning.It's all good. I've been called a

(01:49):
lot worse. There you go.That's through. We'll see where the whoefully
by the end of the show.So yeah, fantastic, Well, glad
to have you here. And next, from Stanford Health, he is the
chair of their department of Psychiatry,doctor Revive Berlin. So, doctor Berlin,
welcome to the show. Thanks somuch. It's great to be here
with you guys. Yeah, greatto have you. And you made the
far trip up from New York StanfordHealth Worth, so pleased. Yeah,

(02:10):
it's great. A little a littlethe weather was a little a little tricky,
but no little rainy here, littlerainie but media. But really glad
to be here, and it seemslike it's starting to maybe clear up a
little bit. There you go,just for the recording. I think maybe
no, the sun's coming out soand last, but certainly not least.
I feel like Connecticure has been onso lately, which has been fantastic.
So from Connecticare. She is theirpublic relations manager, Lauren the Chance.

(02:34):
Lauren, welcome back to Pulse ofthe Region. Thank you, Kate.
I'm so happy to be here today. Of course we'll thrill to have you.
And first things first, if youguys don't mind, we'll do some
introductions or reintroductions, because I thinka lot of your brands our listeners are
familiar with, but I always thinkit's great to give give a reminder,
so why not, Luis, We'llstart with you if you don't mind sharing
and talking about mental health Connecticut.Sure, But first, thank you very

(02:55):
much for highlighting Mental Health Month.I think it's so important for our communities
to hear about awareness and also tobecome hopefully advocates so that we can improve
access to mental health in Connecticut.So, yeah, mental Health Connecticut has
been around since nineteen oh eight.We're celebrating our one hundred and sixteenth year.

(03:22):
We have a legacy of advocating andproviding community education, so Mental Health
Month falls right into our line ofwork. But we also are a service
provider assisting individuals in Connecticut with residentialservices, supported employment, supported education so

(03:44):
that they can have purpose and theycan be part of the community that they
live in. Wonderful. That's great. We'll definitely dive further into a lot
of the work that you're doing.But first we'll have doctor Berlin if you
could talk about Stanford Health and reallyyour role within the hospital. So,
Stanford Health is a nonprofit, independenthealthcare system with more than thirty nine hundred
employees committed to compassionately caring for thecommunity and offering a wide range of high

(04:10):
quality health and wellness services. Ourhealth system includes our beautiful three hundred and
five bed Stamford Hospital and ambulatory servicesthrough the Stanford Health Medical Group, with
more than forty offices in Lower FairfieldCounty offering primary and specialty care. Stanford
is now the second largest city inConnecticut and Stanford Health is the largest employer

(04:32):
in Stanford. At Stanford Health,we have a proud history of caring for
those in our community with serious andlife threatening mental illness. In fact,
we first began admitting patients to ourpsychiatry inpatient unit in nineteen ten, over
one hundred and ten years ago.Wow, so you guys were around the
same time, Yeah, Wealth ourinstitutions were. Yes, yes, neither

(04:56):
of them are that all just toclarify, and it's been great to work
with them and Luis as well.So, and let me tell you a
little bit about my role. Yes, that would be great. So as
Chair of Psychiatry, my role isto treat patients directly, oversee all clinical
care provided to patients with mental healthchallenges, and to build and grow behavioral
health programs to meet the needs ofour community. I am both a child

(05:18):
and adolescent psychiatrist and an adult psychiatrist, and my clinical era of expertise is
working with college students and young adults. Very interesting. Okay, all right,
we'll definitely talk more about this.Appreciate that overview, and Lauren,
can you share a little bit aboutconnecticutre Sure. We are Connecticut's local health
plan. We have been serving theresidence of Connecticut for over forty years now,

(05:42):
and our greatest focus is creating healthierfutures for our members and also communities
across Connecticut. So partnering with MentalHealth Connecticut is super beneficial to us and
to our members. And we alsohave a location in Manchester. We offer
in person services there as well asfitness classes and if you ever have questions

(06:03):
about your health plan or are lookingfor a health plan that fits your needs,
your family's needs, you can gothere their free services. So we
are in the community, daily livingand breathing. Our mission fantastic. And
you know you mentioned the partnership inLouis If you don't mind, you know,
kind of sharing a little bit aboutwhat brings all three of these organizations

(06:24):
together today. Sure well, veryconsistent with Mental Health Connecticut's mission, which
is to partner with individuals, families, and communities to promote health and well
Being. These are three organizations thattake the well being of their constituents connecticuts
residents very seriously and it shows andit's exemplary of how three different industries with

(06:48):
different organizations in terms of the workthat we do, can come together and
augment the information for Connecticut's residents duringthe this month definitely well, it makes
opportunities even larger for greater for people, which is great. And as you
talk, we all touched on Mayis a national mental health awareness month.

(07:10):
So I think to kind of startoff the conversation, i'd love to,
you know, and this is goingto be a big question, doctor Berlin,
to kick things off, but really, you know, I think it's
important for us to get an ideaof kind of the state of the sea
and really and we're kind of arethe needs for people and families, you
know, really as we're confronting mentalhealth issues today. So there's so much
to talk about it. I wouldsay that could be like a three hour
answer probably, but I think Ithink there's some important highlights so that I

(07:34):
really do want to touch on.So, you know, before the COVID
nineteen pandemic, rates of mental illnesswere already on the rise, but the
pandemic was a true tipping point,and the aftermath of the pandemic has resulted
in a national and local public healthcrisis that can really no longer be overlooked.
Nationally, the Surgeon General of vVC Murphy recently called mental health the

(07:57):
public health crisis of our lifetime,which is a remarkable statement to make shortly
following the COVID pandemic. Locally,the results of our community Health Needs Assessment
in Stanford show us that mental healthis now the number one health issue impacting
our community. Mental illnesses are common, more common than most people realize.

(08:18):
One in five US adults lives withthe mental illness, and over fifty percent
of Americans will be diagnosed with themental illness at some point in their lifetime.
And we know that the health ofmind and body are deeply intertwined and
cannot be untangled. In fact,persons with severe mental illness have a life

(08:39):
expectancy of fifteen to twenty years lessthan those without severe mental illness. Oh
my goodness wow. And more broadly, untreated mental illness is a known risk
factor for a broad range of medicalconditions, including heart disease, endocrine disease,
digestive disease, neurological disease, evendementia. Of course, mental health

(09:01):
disorders increase the likelihood of co ocquurringsubstance use disorders, which just adds even
more of a challenge to that samepicture. Okay, thank you for laying
that out, and certainly those statisticsthat I'm sitting here kind of speechless a
little bit with those, and youknow, it's wonderful where all three of
your organizations are doing a lot tonot only address awareness, but really to
set up activities and programs for individualsand for families to deal with a lot

(09:24):
of the issues that you had touchedon there. So, Louise, if
you don't mind kind of high levelif you could talk a little bit on
you know, looking at this monthfirst for the awareness month, is you
know, really some of the activitiesthat are sort of addressing the needs of
today, sure, and just forto make people aware that Mental Health Month
was established in nineteen forty nine bythe Health America. So this is actually

(09:48):
something that happens nationally. And asLauren mentioned, lighting up Green, that's
also a national movement to light homesand businesses that are supporting the efforts of
the campaign. So this year's MentalHealth Month for Mental Health Connecticut is where

(10:11):
to start mental health in a changingworld. So the world is constantly changing
as we know, and for betteror for worse, and it can be
overwhelming to deal with everything going onaround you. And it can be also
very hard to know where to startwhen it comes to taking care of your
own well being. So three items, Learn, act, and advocate.

(10:33):
That's what we are calls to actionduring the month. And in order to
do that, we have a varietyof awareness of wellness fairs. We have
had panel discussions, interviews such asthis one, and we also have the

(10:54):
Let's Face It campaign, which isbringing individuals who are either allies or have
lived experience who want to share theirstory so that we decrease stigma. Right
if we normalize in your neighbor,your friend, your family member is talking
about their condition or their experience orhow they're helping others, it helps us

(11:18):
decrease against stigma and having more peopletalking about it. That's great And I
want to talk more on the Let'sFaces campaign, but first, Lauren would
love if you could share a littlebit on just you know really what Connecticut's
commitment been to support Mental Health AwarenessMonth. Yeah, of course, So,
first and foremost, Connecticut is supportingthe Let's Face It campaign again this
year at Connecticare, we have madeit our promise to match up to twenty

(11:43):
three thousand dollars in donations through theLet's Face It Campaign so that our communities
across the state can have access tothe great resources that Mental Health Connecticut provides
to Connecticut residents. And in addition, we work all year with Mental Health
Connecticut to share their resources to ourmembers through our member newsletters on our social

(12:05):
media pages, and we also jointhose conversations throughout the year because we do
recognize that loneliness and isolation and theneed for mental health services continues to increase
for our residents and across the nation. And lastly, we also partner with
Yoga and our city to offer freeyoga classes throughout the year which are free

(12:28):
in the parts from May to October. And our main goal there is to
bring communities together to help to helpend that loneliness, to really bring people
together, because, as Mental HealthConnecticut has said before in interviews with me,
the mental health of one can helpthe mental health of many. So

(12:52):
we are really proud to partner withMental Health Connecticut and support your initiatives.
That's great, And Louis, couldyou talk a little bit more on the
detail else kind of of the campaignand you know, specifically how could people
get involved to sure So let megive you some examples of some of the
activities we've already engaged and perhaps sharelater on what's upcoming. So we hosted

(13:13):
a first ever Day of Wellness onPratt Street here in Hartford with free wellness
giveaways, mental health screenings, freeyoga from Yoga in their city, and
sound Healing from Kelvin Young. Wewant to stress that there are so many
things that people can do that areself care that can help in terms of

(13:35):
preventing a further deterioration or further So, you know, you may be feeling
a situational anxiety and rather than justyou know, staying isolated and not taking
care of it, there are somethings that you can start doing first before
it gets to be a bigger problem. And then we partner with the Collective

(13:56):
Healing Arts Community on a wake upand well being panel discussion and up next
in Waterbury we are having a freeadult Coloring session This is Fun with Color
on Thursday, May thirtieth. Detailson social media and mental health Connecticut Adult

(14:18):
color. I need to hear moreabout this. Well, you know,
we have been using the arts.We have a program called the Art of
well Being, and we recognize thatart is a great way for people to
not only express how they're feeling ata time, but also to reflect on
what their journey has been. Andagain, if they share either through writing,

(14:39):
through movement, through painting, throughmusic, those feelings, it can
help others right to as Lauren wassaying, and hear that there is hope
because we know that without hope,there's no recovery. Right, definitely,
No, that's an excellent point.And you know, doctor Berlin would love
your perspective here on you know kindof as your seeing and participating in some

(15:01):
of these programs is really what's theimpact that making on potentially your patients or
you know, as you're seeing ona whole. So, first of all,
Stanford Health is so proud to supportthe Let's Face It campaign. We
are one of the hospitals, oneof the buildings that's actually lit up green
for the entire month. It's funkso the big Stanford Health sign at the

(15:22):
top of the hospital is green forthe entire month. So anybody that just
happens to be down in the Fairfieldarea, if you swing by the hospital
at night, you'll see it.And so I think that speaks volumes to
the commitment that our health system hason mental health as part of our core
mission. So I just wanted tosay that as well. You know,

(15:43):
as Louis said, Mental Health AwarenessMonth was established in nineteen forty nine,
actually for two reasons. The firstis to increase awareness of the importance of
mental health and wellness in Americans lives. But the second part is also to
celebrate recovery from mental illness, andwe sometimes overlook that second part. There's

(16:03):
absolutely nothing more powerful than hearing thestory of someone who has suffered or struggled
in the same way that you have. We need to hear more stories about
suffering, resilience, and recovery directlyfrom those who have experienced it. Recovery
for mental illness is real, althoughthis can be extremely hard to appreciate when

(16:26):
we are in the depths of adepressive episode or an anxiety episode, or
other symptoms and illness of illnesses thatwe're suffering from that can actually at times
make us feel really hopeless and down. So I can sit here and recite
hundreds of statistics and talk about neurotransmittersand the brain and how our therapeutics and

(16:47):
psychotherapy can create neuroplasticity, and onand on and on and on. You're
starting to lose that I'm sitting asin the cliff notes, I think that
conversation will never even come close tomaking the same impact as hearing someone else's
personal narrative about their illness and theirrecovery. Wonderful point that's there, And
is there any examples you could share? I know that's maybe a tough,

(17:10):
tough story about anything you've seen,you know, kind of a great success
story to share with others. Yeah, so we we have. We had
our annual gala earlier this year andmental Health and the Department of Psychiatry was
actually we were raising fund specifically forthat cause, and so we put together
a video where we had a patientof ours who was on our impatient unit,

(17:33):
who happens to be an attorney inthe area, who recovered from a
suicide attempt, and he was soarticulate and uh, and and passionate and
and just talked about how you know, in that moment, he really felt
like life wasn't worth living for.But as he started to recover and get

(17:56):
well, his perspective on life changedand he had a one to eighty.
And I think him getting that messageout to our community was incredibly impactful.
And I'm sure that there were peoplewho were listening to that story who got
help as a result of that.Definitely. No, that's where I know
you'd mentioned kind of the mental healthof one really can impact many. So
thank you for sharing that store.I really appreciate that. And you know,

(18:18):
Lauren, as we talk about kindof the impact, and you had
mentioned a lot of the services thatConnecticure provides really would have kind of been
some of the results you've seen,and you know kind of over the years
that Connecticure has been providing a lotof support. Yeah, I would say
the biggest result is the growth ofyoga in our city. I think that
we have noticed as we've come outof the pandemic that more and more people

(18:41):
are really wanting to connect and wantingto be surrounded by their community members,
and we have seen the classes growfrom twenty people to over one hundred and
a lot of the parks, andI think that's a testament to the fact
that we welcome everyone and that wereally are encouraging people, even if you've
never tried it before, to justcome and practice your breathing and feel like

(19:06):
you are not alone. So thatwould probably be the biggest example that I
can share. I would also saywe have a lot of conversations at Connecticure
around how we can support our members, and we have a really great clinical
team that does a lot of outreachand tries to get our members the resources
that they need, so we arehere to support them. And like to

(19:26):
your point as well, really supportingthe Let's Face It campaign and seeing that
grow and being able to share thosestories. Our executive Andy Campbell participated last
year and she shared her story,and I really do feel like sharing those
stories encourages people to reach out andto seek the help they may need.

(19:47):
Definitely no great points there, andcertainly a lot of great impact that I
know. Yog in the City isone of my favorites. I'm always a
huge it's trying too and it's wonderfulyou walk out. I usually go to
Bushnell Park in Hartford, and there'sthere's one hundred and fifty people there and
yoga maths or even without yoga mats, just kind of laying in the grass.
So it's a wonderful experience. Definitely. Yeah. And I you know,
I would say we partner with MentalHealth Connecticut on yogaan our city.

(20:11):
They really do share the program andreally encourage people to attend as well,
and I think that makes an impacton it as well. Perfect. So
I want to ask kind of thisquestion to all three of you, you
know, as we look at youknow what people who are listening, what
can the community and what can thebusiness community do to help support because I
think, you know, we're,as you'd mentioned Louis right off the bat,

(20:33):
were stronger with partners. So Louis, I'll get your perspective first on
that and then we'll go around thetable. Well, I think that one
of the lessons that we have learned, or perhaps not learned but underscored,
is that after pandemic, when wewere coming back to work, people were
incredibly anxious about how it was goingto be different. So employers have definitely

(20:53):
started to pay attention to mental healthin the workplace, something that has been
in the past, something you don'ttalk about because you know, because of
whatever uh stigma for for one,but also because people were not equipped right
to have those difficult conversations when theycame up. So I would encourage businesses
to really take a look at theirnot only their policies or procedures, but

(21:17):
also the readiness and capacity that supervisorsmanagers have so that when their employees come
with a valid uh, so thatthey don't have to hide how they're feeling
right uh and there be and theycan get the support that they need.
I think that that's incredibly important.And by the way, it's a good
business proposition because healthy employees means uhlower insurance premiums uh, which reduces cost,

(21:44):
it reduces absenteeism. So uh andit's not just important to pay attention
to your employees, but also ifyou're in a position where you can support
the health benefits of their the that'salso important, right because definitely it is
important for people if they have,you know, sick children, they're not

(22:06):
going to come to work even andthen they're going to have the worry of
having that sick child or whoever thatperson may be that is in need of
services, and can I can Ijust add that on top of that,
Luis, you know, organizations thathave resources available for their employees to get
the services that they need when they'restruggling and when they're suffering also helps with

(22:30):
retention, yes, right, which, which which is an enormous, enormous
point. If your employees are gettingwell when they're struggling, they're not only
going to be more likely to staywithin the organization, but to perform at
a higher level. Right. Ifsomeone is struggling with depression, if someone
is struggling with anxiety and they getthe help that they need, they're going
to be better employees. They're goingto be better colleagues. They're in addition

(22:52):
to obviously in their own private lifebeing happy or healthier, having stronger relationships,
et cetera. Absolutely, it's agreat proposition, and thank you.
Those are excellent points as well.I do think that you know that turnover
is the most expensive uh right,Lias, which and it's amazing no matter
what we talk about on the show, it always comes down to that a
lot. Absolutely, and again touh doctor Berlin's uh point, it makes

(23:21):
for a good employer. It makesfor a much long lasting relationship, right
and engagement of that employee. Fantasticand Lauren, anything else you'd want to
add in on this, you knowfrom your vantage point, Yeah, actually,
I would like to add that alot of our employees have actually taken
mental health first Aid with Mental HealthConnecticut, which helps them be able to

(23:41):
speak to other employees, maybe identifyif an employee is struggling, and be
able to give them the right toolsto seek help. We've even our one
of our companies, Wellspark Health,has also had those classes offered to employees,
So I think that's also an importantas respect and our employees benefit from

(24:03):
wills of our health. We havehealth coaches, so when one of us
does feel like we are struggling withdepression or anxiety, or maybe feeling overwhelmed
at home or isolated, we canwork with those health coaches and they're able
to help us find the right toolsto really work through those difficult times.
So I think you know, ahealthy employee does result in retention. It

(24:26):
also does result in just a feelingof not being alone as well. You're
able to really feel like you're beingsupported by your employer, which results in
great work that impacts your business anda lot of times the community around you.
If people are interested, I'm justgoing to ask, because I go,
let's talk about more about this program. A Sure Mental Health Connecticut did

(24:48):
start up a program called the Collaborative, Okay, and it's working with organizations
that really want to make an investmentand understand the value of having good mental
health in the workplace activities and policiesand supports for their employees. So please
again. Information is on our websiteat www dot MHCNN dot org. Okay,

(25:14):
fantastic, and Louise, I knowyou touched on a couple events coming
up, but I think you havethree big ones coming up which I want
to make sure we re emphasize andhighlight. So I think the first one
is called right On with a WYes, right On, and this is
an introductory version of right On.It's called Discovering your Inner Writer. And

(25:37):
again, we want to make surethat we cover the whole lifespan in terms
of good mental health. And weknow that most mental health conditions surface,
not start, but surface during teenageand young adulthood. Okay, So this
is a series of workshops for youngadults ages fourteen to eighteen that will take
place in July and August of thisand as I mentioned, the series walks

(26:03):
individuals through setting up a writing practice, provides strategies for improving writing, and
offers writing prompts and exercises to keepthe participants motivated and improving their writing skills.
The second one is Moving Stories andagain looking at movement as a way

(26:23):
of improving one's mental health. Sowe're partnering with the award winning Justice Dance
Performance Project or JDPP, and it'san arts workshop designed to improve the mental
health and wellness of individuals. Thisis for young adults as well, sixteen
to twenty five and will take placein June here in Hartford. And then

(26:48):
finally I mentioned the Light Up withColor, which is an activity that is
happening nationally being sponsored by Mental HealthAmerica as part of Mental Health Month.
It's using adult coloring sessions to learnabout the power of mindfulness through the arts.
So we have writing, dance andcoloring. What more could you want?

(27:11):
Maybe a little music? And I'lljust add I love all three of
those initiatives so much. I thinkthat we really do need to be paying
close attention to our young people andthe ways in which they're struggling. A
statistic that I recently came across isthat from two thousand and ten to twenty
twenty, the number of young people, including you know, teenagers and young

(27:34):
adults, who came to the emergencyroom across the country for any reason stayed
the same, okay, but theproportion of them that came for behavioral health
related reasons doubled, and the proportionof them that specifically came for suicide or
self harm reasons increased fivefold. Andthis was just from twenty ten to twenty

(27:56):
twenty. With the pandemic, thosenumbers have escalated even further. Just at
Stanford Health, we've seen over athirty five percent increase in just the last
three years and the number of teenagerscoming to our emergency department and crisis.
So it's wonderful to have these programs, and you know, if families want
to learn more about Stanford Health anda lot of what the work that you're

(28:18):
doing, where could people go tofind more information? So, I mean,
there's great information on our website.In addition to that, I would
really encourage people to go to theNOMI website, which is a fantastic resource.
Www dot Nomi dot org. Andthen the last resource I want to
let people know about, especially interms of young people, teenagers and young

(28:41):
adults, is the JED Foundation andthey have a tremendous amount of resources on
their website as well, and that'sJedfoundation dot org. Okay, thank you
so much for sharing that. AndLouis, can you remind people your website
absolutely www dot did I say onetoo many w's? No? I think
you're good o. Www dot MHCOdot org. And again, lots of

(29:06):
resources and connection to other programs andorganizations that are here in Connecticut to assist
Connecticut residents. Great, thank youso much. And Lauren, where can
people learn more about Connecticare and Wellspark. Yeah, you can go to www
dot Connecticare dot com or you canfollow us on social media. We do

(29:26):
a lot of resharing of mental healthConnecticut's events, so it's a great resource.
And for Wellsburg you can go towww Dot Wellspark Health dot com.
Fantastic. Well thank you all somuch for the conversation today and appreciate what
each of your organizations are doing reallyto support our communities. Thanks for having
us of course, of course,and as we sign off today is we

(29:47):
would like to welcome a new memberto the Metro Hertford Alliance. Today we
welcome the Connecticut Rivers Council. TheConnecticut Rivers Council proudly serves over eight thousand
boys and girls throughout Connecticut with thetime tested leadership train program of Scouting.
The mission of the Boy Scouts ofAmerica is to prepare young people to make
ethical and moral choices over their lifetimesby instilling in them the values of the

(30:11):
Scout Oath and Law. For moreinformation, you can visit Ctscouting dot org.
And for all the details about today'sshow, you can visit pulseoftheregion dot
com. We'd like to say thankyou to our show partner, Okill,
and of course thanks to you forlistening. I'm Kate Bauman. Go out
and make today a good day herein Connecticut.
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