Women’s Mental Health Council Offers Connection and Resources During Pandemic

April 11, 2021

Despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, 2020 was a year of robust activity for the Women’s Mental Health Leadership Council, a group of women that has been gathering for years to discuss topics of mental health.

Established in 2016, the group comes together to learn from McLean experts about mental health concerns specific to women and girls. Members provide philanthropic support for the hospital’s pioneering work in the field.

Built into their signature program, the On Women’s Minds luncheon series, is time for participants to candidly share their own experiences—or those of loved ones—with mental health issues. An important byproduct of the program is destigmatizing these types of conversations.

The council began modestly, with a couple dozen members gathering for lunch at someone’s home, listening to McLean clinicians and researchers share their work. Today, membership has grown to more than 100, and the group has created a junior membership for women under 35, adding 21 young women to its roster. The council now sponsors a more informal coffee series too.

Two women talking outside
Kristine Trustey and Carroll C.D. Pierce are co-chairs of McLean’s Women’s Mental Health Leadership Council

“We’ve worked hard to create an environment where people can speak candidly about mental health. It’s a no-judgment zone,” said Carroll Pierce, the group’s co-founder and a member of McLean’s National Council.

Added Kristine Trustey, co-founder of the Women’s Mental Health Leadership Council and chair of the National Council, “Women are really hungry for the information and experience McLean experts have to share and for the camaraderie of other women who also have an interest in mental health.”

Although all of the council’s programs now take place on Zoom, the topics are as compelling as ever. Recent talks have explored stress and anxiety; provided a nuanced look at the impact of cannabis on the brain, cognition, and quality of life; and discussed the under-recognized issue of menstrual pain.

Pierce and Trustey said it’s been especially gratifying to welcome younger members into the fold, and both have gifted memberships to their daughters. (They have six between them.) “In addition to bringing in new perspectives, it’s been a nice way for mothers and daughters to participate together,” said Trustey.

Among the projects the council has financially supported is the development of an online clinical tool kit containing best practices for the screening, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illnesses common to women and an innovative year-long educational fellowship for clinicians interested in women’s mental health.

For more information about the Women’s Mental Health Leadership Council, contact Erin Collins-Moore at 617.855.4596.

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