The 2016 event marks the continued quest of the MGH Leadership Council for Psychiatry to raise awareness of mental illness and diminish its stigma.

The MGH Leadership Council for Psychiatry continued its quest to raise awareness of mental illness and diminish its stigma when members and guests from across the country convened in Boston on June 20, 2016 for the MGH Leadership Council for Psychiatry Fifth Annual Visiting Day.

“We want to educate families about psychiatric diagnoses and to erase the age-held stigma associated with them.”

The event is an opportunity for supporters of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Psychiatry to come together on the hospital’s campus to learn about the department’s latest research advances and patient care initiatives. Co-chairs Michele Kessler and Carroll Carpenter spoke to fellow council members and friends of the department about the importance of being ambassadors for this mission.

“We know that ‘No family goes untouched’ when it comes to mental illness. We want to educate families about psychiatric diagnoses and to erase the age-held stigma associated with them,” Mrs. Carpenter said. “The more we can do this, the greater the number of people who will be motivated to seek care for themselves or a loved one.”

Training the Next Generation

Added Mrs. Kessler: “Today you will see how special the MGH Department of Psychiatry is, not just for those of us who have the good fortune and privilege to receive care or guidance here, but for the country and the world through its teaching and research.”

In his welcoming remarks, Jerrold Rosenbaum, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief, reflected on the recent graduation of the department’s residents and the initiation of a new class of trainees.  With this training of the next generation of clinicians and researchers, Dr. Rosenbaum said he finds hope.

With this training of the next generation of clinicians and researchers, Dr. Rosenbaum said he finds hope. “With renewal comes progress and growth, not only of the trainee, but of the field,” Dr. Rosenbaum said.

“With renewal comes progress and growth, not only of the trainee, but of the field,” Dr. Rosenbaum said. “In psychiatry as in all of medicine, we do so well for so many, only to fall short for too many. Thus we must struggle, innovate, plod on, reconsider, study and test. We are on the job and will continue to deliver on that promise.”

Psychiatry and Philanthropy

Mass General President Peter L. Slavin, MD, also addressed the audience and thanked Leadership Council members for their generosity and fundraising, totaling $35 million to date. The impact of that support was shown firsthand by presenters Sharmin Ghaznavi, MD, PhD, and Kelly Irwin, MD, whose respective research projects on rumination, the repetitive focus on oneself and symptoms of distress, and on cancer care for patients with mental illness, were funded by Leadership Council donations.

The day also included five mini-seminars on topics ranging from anxiety and depression to family relations. One of the highlights came at lunchtime, when a panel of speakers participated in a session called “Stories of Recovery.” Three patients, paired with their Mass General clinicians, shared their stories of recovery from depression, anxiety and substance use.

One patient spoke of her four-year battle with treatment-resistant depression, including an eight-month inpatient hospitalization. Today, her depression is under control and she is enjoying a new apartment and part-time consulting job.

Her clinician, Timothy Petersen, PhD, co-director of the Bulfinch Program, described what it meant to him to see her speaking to the audience: “Seeing her smile when I walked in today makes all of the work that I do worth it.”

For more information or to support the Mass General Department of Psychiatry, please contact Lorraine Fanton.