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“I have three generations of serious mental illness in my family, and not all of them have always had good outcomes … I will never forget that I am a family member first,” said Marylou Sudders, secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services, in her keynote address at the 2019 McLean Board of Visitors annual meeting. The Secretary shared with the more than 80 attendees that her mother battled chronic depression and substance use and that, as a teen, she was her mother’s caretaker.
Sudders explained that her early experiences with mental illness greatly influenced her professional journey. Her passion for creating a better and more accessible behavioral health system and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness was evident in her deeply personal and inspirational remarks.
The McLean Board of Visitors is a group of nearly 200 individuals who serve as McLean ambassadors and advocates and who share a keen interest in mental health issues. They come together annually to hear updates about the hospital and stay current on recent innovations and trends in behavioral and mental health research and treatments.
The May 1 meeting fell on the first day of Mental Health Awareness month, and guests were offered green ribbons to show their support and encourage open discourse about mental illness throughout their circles.
The half-day meeting included an update on the state of the hospital by McLean President and Psychiatrist in Chief Scott L. Rauch, MD, and a presentation by Chief Scientific Officer Kerry J. Ressler, MD, PhD, on trauma and how research can advance treatment and prevention. Guests also had the opportunity to participate in small group roundtable discussions led by McLean clinicians and researchers.
As Board of Visitors members since 2015, Joe Fiorello and Brian Hyde value the annual meetings as a venue for connecting to others with common goals as well as a chance to learn from the world-class faculty and staff at McLean.
“Brian and I are so happy to have the opportunity to serve on the Board of Visitors,” said Fiorello. “We’ve met so many wonderful people while knowing we are helping to spread the word about the good work that McLean does to assist individuals and their families to overcome challenges of dealing with mental illness in any form.”
Building and deepening relationships with fellow members is a common theme with attendees, many of whom travel from great distances to attend and have established lasting friendships within the group.