Institute of Living Celebrates Its 200th Anniversary


The Institute of Living is a key part of the history of mental health care.

The Institute of Living is one of the oldest and foremost mental health institutions in the nation, from its days of wealthy patients playing on tennis courts and lounging poolside to the managed care era and now modern-day research and treatments.

In 2022 and 2023, the IOL will be celebrating its 200th anniversary with events on campus and in the community to showcase the innovative behavioral health care offered as part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.


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Trees, Olmsted, IOL Grounds


Inaugural IOL Bicentennial Lectureship debuts

Each year, the Hartford HealthCare Institute of Living (IOL) commemorates its history by recognizing the lifetime leadership of an esteemed psychiatrist with its Burlingame Award. Beginning this year as part of its the 200th anniversary, the IOL is building upon this tradition with the launch of a new Bicentennial Lectureship initiative.

The new Bicentennial Lectureship will be awarded annually to a junior psychiatrist who is early in their career and has demonstrated innovation, advocacy, and patient-centeredness in mental health service design and delivery and their approach to care.

Planned to take place over two days, the celebration will consist of an on-site visit at the Institute of Living where the recipient is invited to present a grand rounds presentation on a topic of their choosing and a workshop focusing on skill-building for our community. The itinerary will be co-developed with the IOL community and the lecturer who will spend the second day visiting with learners and staff.

Dr. Ahmed Hankir chosen as first Bicentennial Lectureship recipient

International Innovator Dr. Ahmed Hankir speaks on mental health stigma

Dr. Hankir and Dr. SukherabThe first IOL lectureship recipient was Ahmed Hankir, MD, an internationally known speaker, author and thought leader who has personally experienced mental health challenges, is best known for his anti-stigma presentation “The Wounded Healer.” Dr. Hankir works as an academic and clinical psychiatrist for South London and Maudsley National Health Service Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom. He brought his personal experience as an immigrant, a Muslim and someone who has overcome personal mental health challenges to his unique approach to healing and thriving.

During his two-day visit in January 2023, Dr. Hankir presented a grand rounds presentation on stigma and bias in healthcare as well as an in-person skill building community workshop that focused on the role of the arts and music in healing.

Both of Dr. Hankir’s lively presentations addressed the many aspects of the stigma and the fear of repercussions that some medical professionals have discussing their own personal mental health issues but also the benefits of sharing their lived experiences with patients. He praised the work of recovery support specialists and others who are open about their mental health history and encouraged all to work on rewriting the narrative and using tools like social media to further the message and “tweet against the dying of the light”.

Black & Red ReImagined Event

After a one-year hiatus because of the pandemic, Hartford Hospital’s Black & Red made a triumphant return raising more than $2 million for the Institute of Living. Read the full story.

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Black & Red Event

How Music Helps to Heal Depression, Trauma

Music can relax you, bring back memories of certain times in your life or bring a smile to your face. Research shows a clear link between health and music: music therapy can be used to help combat depression and heal trauma, and listening to music has been shown to reduce heart rate, lower blood pressure and decrease stress levels. Read the full story.

Hartford Frederick Olmsted Commemoration Includes IOL

As the Institute of Living celebrates 200 years of operation in 2022, the year is also the 200th anniversary of the birth of Hartford’s own native son Frederick Law Olmsted. The famed landscape architect designed Manhattan’s Central Park, the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, and mental health hospitals in Boston, Buffalo, and in 1861 the Institute of Living. Read the full story.


Modern MindsModern Minds with Mark Henick

This Hartford HealthCare Institute of Living 10-part video/podcast series tackles tough issues and mental health trends with nationally known mental health advocate, author and podcaster Mark Henick.

Mark HenickLively interviews will feature a range of innovative and creative guests, all at the forefront of the mental health revolution. They're some of the most fascinating thought leaders and change agents whose ideas and activities driving the mental health movement forward.

Topics will include the role of architecture in behavioral health settings, including greenspace; why it is important to have people who have experienced mental health or substance abuse employed in behavioral health settings and involved in decision-making at all levels; the nation’s struggle to provide adolescent services when they are needed most, and what’s being done to improve access to them.

Click here for the podcast trailer

Episode Links

Episode 8 Podcast

Episode 8 Video

For your own good: Involuntary hospitalization
On this podcast Mark speaks with On this episode of MODERN MINDS, Mark speaks with Dr. Awais Aftab and Dr. Paul Puri about the process, history, and ethics of involuntary hospitalization in psychiatry.

Previous Modern Minds Podcasts

Episode Links

Episode 7 Podcast

Episode 7 Video

Helping the helpers: Healthcare worker burnout
On this podcast Mark speaks with Dr. Anna Schaffner and author Sarah McVanel about burnout among healthcare workers. They cover the personal and organizational aspects of this matter of vital concern.

Episode 6 Podcast

Episode 6 Video

Back to School with Diverse Needs
Fall has arrived and kids of all ages are adjusting to their return to school, and their parents too! For kids with diverse needs, this transition comes with some unique considerations. Dr. Susan Rich is on the show to share some strategies for how to support children and families during this time. Then, Mark is joined by his former professor, Dr. Pamela Epley, a special education expert at the Erikson Institute for Child Development in Chicago. Together they talk about the role that teachers and schools play in supporting kids through the transition back to school.

Episode 5 Podcast

Episode 5 Video

A De-prescription for Mental Health
This month we examine the crucial role medications play a role in managing various mental health conditions and in improving quality of life. However, as our understanding of medicine advances, so too does our knowledge of the efficacy and potential risks associated with certain drugs commonly used for mental illnesses. Mark delves into the art and science of de-prescribing — the process of thoughtfully reducing or discontinuing medications for mental health conditions - with psychiatrist Dr. Mark Horowitz and cardiologist Dr. Christy Huff.

Episode 4 Podcast

Episode 4 Video

Psychedelic Renaissance
We've entered into a psychedelic renaissance and can finally see the promise of novel treatments for some of the most common mental health problems. Yet, psychedelics continue to carry the stigma imposed by the war on drugs.

On this episode, Mark Henick is joined by two distinguished scientists: Dr. Godfrey Pearlson from the COBRA lab at the Institute of Living and Yale University, and Dr. Albert Garcia-Romeu from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Together they help to dispel myths and build understanding around the therapeutic application of psychedelics.

Episode 3 Podcast

Episode 3 Video

Are the Kids Alright?
Recent surveys by the Centers for Disease Control add to the mounting evidence that the mental health of teenagers is in serious decline. Yet in the face of this, 80% of children and youth who need treatment have no access to a specialized mental health provider.

Mark Henick is joined by New York Times bestselling authors Dr. Daniel Siegel and Dr. Lisa Damour to discuss the state of teen mental health. Then, Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) stops by to talk about what can be done. It concludes with a conversation about services provided by HHC with Mara De Maio, PhD, Director, Child and Adolescent Services at The Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital.

Episode 2 Podcast

Episode 2 Video

Healing Spaces
“Healing Spaces” examines the subject of architecture looking at healing spaces, recovery-oriented architecture, and the impact of environmental design and need for green and blue space in both rural and urban settings for our mental health. Guests this episode include Hartford Hospital psychiatrist-in-chief emeritus Dr. Hank Schwartz, HKS Global Practice Director and Principal Dr. Upali Nanda, as well as architect and director of Psychological Design Dr. Jan Golembiewski.

Episode 1 Podcast

Episode 1 Video

Nothing About Us Without Us
The first in the series addresses co-design in mental health, which includes how you can’t design programs, services, buildings or treatment without including those who know best — people who have experienced mental health and addiction themselves.
Guests include Ken Duckworth, MD, chief medical officer for National Alliance on Mental Illness and Emi Netfeld author of the book “Acceptance,” a memoir of her journey through foster care and homelessness, and IOL expert Karen Kangas, PhD, director of recovery and family affairs at the IOL, who discusses the importance of recovery support specialists and lived experience.

Mark Henick is a regular media commentator and TEDx talk presenter providing a mental health angle on a diverse range of stories, having appeared in hundreds of on camera segments, radio spots, print article and online features. His first book, So-Called Normal: A Memoir of Family, Depression and Resilience, is available worldwide from HarperCollins.

Video of every episode will be available on Spotify and YouTube, as well as @markhenick on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Audio episodes are available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon, iHeartRadio, and all of the other usual podcast platforms.

More Life Podcasts

The Evolution of Mental Health Care: 200 years at the Institute of Living

From the Hartford Retreat for the Insane to The Institute of Living
Listen as Dr. Hank Schwartz, psychiatrist in chief emeritus at the Institute of Living, takes you on a fascinating journey back in time with the tale of the founding of the Hartford Retreat.


A Pioneer in Mental Health Treatment: Exploring the History of the Institute of Living
Radio host Lucy Nalpathanchil featured guest Dr. Hank Schwartz, psychiatrist and Chief Emeritus of Hartford Hospital’s Institute of living on her Where we live radio program to share the history of the Connecticut mental health center, 200 years after its opening. Although asylums have a reputation for inhumane treatment towards the mentally ill, the Hartford Retreat was a pioneer in treating all of its patients with respect and dignity. The conversation shares how that philosophy informs how the Institute operates today and addresses questions about the history of asylums in our state.

Mental Health Awareness and  IOL 200th Anniversary
This special iHeart Communities podcast episode features the experts of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network and the Institute of Living. Renee Dinino of IHeart Renee is joined by Dr. Hank Schwartz, Psychiatrist in Chief Emeritus at Institute of Living/Hartford Healthcare, Dr. Javeed Sukhera is the current Chair of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital’s Institute of Living under the Hartford Healthcare Behavioral Health Network, and Rebecca Stewart, Vice President of Content Strategy for Hartford HealthCare. They discuss the wave of mental illness we have been seeing since the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020 and the history of The Institute of Living is one of the first mental health centers in the United States and the first hospital of any kind in Connecticut.


Two Centuries of Caring

The winter issue of Moments magazine features the IOL 200th, looking back at the history of the groundbreaking mental health institution as well as the future of research, innovative care and ever-expanding treatment options. Read the full story.

Two Centuries of innovation and excellence at The Institute of Living that revolutionized care for the mentally ill is the subject of the latest issue of the Journal of the Connecticut State Medical Society. Articles examine the rich history and legacy now being highlighted during the two-year anniversary celebration of its founding in 1822. The special issue features a guest editorial by Dr. Hank Schwartz, Psychiatrist-in-Chief Emeritus at the Institute of Living, entitled Two Hundred Years of Innovation and Excellence and article The Retreat for the Insane: An Early Example of the Use of Moral Treatment in America by authors Dr. Bruce Clouette, PhD, and Paul Deslandes, PhD. Read the full story.


The Future of Mental Health Starts Here.

Innovative Care

The Institute of Living remains at the forefront of behavioral health, offering patients hope for recovery through comprehensive care, research, education, and the expertise of the best clinical minds in the fields of behavioral, psychiatric, and addiction disorders. Javeed Sukhera, HBSc, MD, PhD, DABPN, FRCPC, Chair of Psychiatry at the Institute of Living and Chief of the Department of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital, speaks about shared humanity and building healing as part of patient care.

Focus on Health

A recent Focus on Health hosted by Hartford Hospital featured a discussion about the future of mental health care in the new normal.

Book & Movie Club

As part of the Institute of Living’s bicentennial celebration, the book and movie club discusses the history, present, and future of moral treatment and provides a space for rich discussion, collaborative education, and reflection for participants. It is held every other month in person in at the IOL campus Commons Building Hartford Room, 200 retreat Ave, Hartford,  and virtually.  

The club is co-facilitated by Javeed Sukhera, MD, PhD, FRCPC, chair of psychiatry at the Institute of Living and chief of Department of Psychiatry at Hartford Hospital, and Hank Schwartz, MD, psychiatrist-in-chief emeritus, Institute of Living.

“As we reflect on our bicentennial and look forward, bringing together the IOL community to discuss their perspectives on the past, present, and future of moral treatment felt like an opportunity. By creating space for these discussions, we hope we are building a stronger community and engaging one another as co-authors of the next chapter of our history,” said Dr. Sukhera.

Even if you are unable to read the entire book, your attendance is still welcome for all of the discussions.

Past Selections

October 6, 2022

"The Bluest Eye” is the debut novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison published in 1970 detailing the tragic story of Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl from an abusive home.

July 26, 2022

"Fugitive Pieces" by Anne Michaels and a movie adaptation is a rapturously acclaimed novel of loss, memory, history, and redemption about a boy from a worn torn Polish city who buried himself to hide from soldiers who murdered his family. 

April 19, 2022

"The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission that Changed our Understanding of Madness" by Susannah Cahalan explores a mental health study from the 1970s, whether it was based in truth or deceit and how it impacted the field of mental health care.

February 15, 2022

“Mad Yankees: The Hartford Retreat for the Insane and Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry” by Lawrence Goodheart explores the history and contribution of The Hartford Retreat for the Insane and 19th Century Psychiatry.

Institute of Living

200 Retreat Avenue, Hartford, CT 06106 

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