The McLean Board of Visitors (BoV) gathers annually to connect and learn about current innovations in research, clinical care, and training at McLean. Sally Lee is a longtime member of the group and a former patient at McLean. She credits the hospital for saving her life and now pays it forward through advocacy, philanthropy, and enthusiastic involvement in the BoV.
Lee appreciates the annual meetings as an opportunity to share her perspective and hear that of others. “For me, the Board of Visitors is a group that helps reduce the stigma of a mental illness, which I’d like to see go away once and for all,” said Lee.
This group of nearly 200 individuals hails from all over the United States and shares a deep interest in mental health issues and a keen dedication to McLean. Like Lee, they serve as ambassadors and advocates, and many support the hospital through philanthropic giving.
Because of the pandemic, the popular gathering did not occur in 2020, and the ability to gather and reconnect was missed. This past spring, with the pandemic waning, but not yet in our rear-view mirrors, the group gathered virtually.
The May 5 meeting saw record attendance with nearly 100 guests logging in to participate, learn, ask questions, and share stories and personal experiences. “The session was fantastic! I wanted more time. So interesting and so relevant,” said one new member.
McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, opened the meeting with a hospital update. He spoke about growth and resilience, the challenges of a global pandemic, and the need for mental health services. His message was one of confidence, innovation, and forward momentum.
Rauch welcomed new trustees, reviewed McLean’s overall response to and recovery from the COVID pandemic, reaffirmed the hospital’s commitment to anti-racist, justice, and health equity efforts, shared news of McLean’s expanding clinical services, and expressed his deep gratitude for the Board of Visitors and his pride in the faculty and staff at McLean who have worked tirelessly to provide services during a historically difficult year.
Shelly F. Greenfield, MD, MPH, chief of McLean’s Division of Women’s Mental Health, shared her expertise in a presentation about women and alcohol, and Matt Siegel, host of the “Matty in the Morning” FM radio show, offered his heartfelt gratitude to McLean for the hospital’s care of a loved one.
The small group breakout sessions, once again, saw robust participation. Led by McLean researchers and clinicians, guests were able to connect in a more intimate way and many shared their own personal experiences with mental illness. “I learned a lot and felt heard, and there was an openness and connection among the participants I hadn’t expected,” remarked one participant.
The virtual nature of the meeting was a success, enabling members to join from the comfort of their own homes without the challenges of travel. The Board of Visitors will gather again in May 2022; whether in person or a hybrid model, it is certain to create a lasting impression.
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