Student Projects Contribute to the Fight Against Stigma

Print icon

Sixteen students and one teacher from schools around Connecticut were honored at the 15th annual BrainDance Awards on April 26, presented by the Institute of Living.

The BrainDance Awards encourage high school students to learn about psychiatric conditions and develop a more tolerant and realistic perspective toward people with severe psychiatric problems. The competition also aims to promote student interest in careers in mental health care.

“Each project celebrated at the BrainDance Awards encompasses our mission of decreasing stigma and discrimination, and increasing the involvement of students in the lives and issues that face those with mental illness,” said Dr. Harold Schwartz, psychiatrist-in-chief of the Institute of Living and vice president of behavioral health at Hartford Hospital. “This is an important part of getting students involved not just in mental illness, but in mental wellness for a lifetime.”

Awards and cash prizes were given to first, second and third-place finishers in the Art, Academic and Mixed Media categories, and the students presented a brief overview of their projects.

Winners included:

Art

  • 1ST PLACE: “The Story Through Music” by Hannah Wheelock from Bristol Eastern High School
  • 2ND PLACE (TIE): “The Model” by Erin Collinge from East Lyme High School
  • 2ND PLACE (TIE): “Breathe” by Jennifer Santos from Bristol Eastern High School
  • 3rd PLACE (TIE): “The Walls” by Mairead Reilly from Woodland Regional High School
  • 3rd PLACE (TIE): “Caged Emotion” by Alexa Gosselin from RHAM High School

Academic

  • 1ST PLACE: “Education’s Impact on Perceptions About Borderline Personality Disorder” by Ashley Varjenski, Noelis Guzman and Kaitlyn Stripling from Norwich Technical High School
  • 2ND PLACE: “Education Increases Empathy Towards Autism” by Kalli Campbell and Tayler Plante from Norwich Technical High School
  • 3rd PLACE: “High School Stigma” by Shane Caron from Bristol Eastern High School

Mixed Media

  • 1ST PLACE: “#WordsMatter” by Deniz Çamli-Saunders from University High School of Science and Engineering
  • 2ND PLACE: “Body Dysmorphia” by Jack Souder and Dylan Reilly from Salisbury School
  • 3rd PLACE: “Early Onset Bipolar Disorder” by Miranda Janick and Julia Dimattia from Bristol Eastern High School

The projects were judged by expert clinicians and researchers in the field, who determined winners based on creativity, accuracy, scientific rigor and relevance to the issue of mental health stigma.

Meredith Kirkpatrick, an AP English teacher at Coventry High School, was also honored for her support of the BrainDance Awards and the work she has done to help stop the stigma of mental illness.

“The BrainDance Awards are designed to make students more aware – and get them more passionate and caring about – mental health issues while having fun and being creative,” said Dr. Godfrey Pearlson, director of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center at the Institute of Living. “We encourage students to research psychiatric diseases they might not be familiar with and, based on what they discover for themselves, to develop a more tolerant and accepting attitude toward people who have them.”

Dr. Pearlson presented the awards along with Nancy Hubbard, LCSW, and Jimmy Choi, PsyD, of the Institute of Living.

Winners joined their teachers, families and classmates for the award ceremony celebration and participated in complementary educational opportunities, including a panel discussion with mental health professionals and a lecture about teen suicide and psychosis from Dr. Choi.

Attendees were also invited to tour the neuroimaging research center and visit the Myths, Minds & Medicine museum, which highlights the history of mental health care.


What's New

Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Fall Classic: Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Pumpkin anyone? It’s fall, which means it’s pumpkin season. Pumpkin is certainly an appropriate choice in a healthy diet. Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A, potassium, fiber and antioxidants like beta-carotene. One cup cooked is only 49 calories, with 12 grams of carbohydrate, 3 grams of fiber and no fat....

Nurse Assisting Patient Undergoing Mammogram

Mobile Mammography Coming to Curtis Building

Hartford Hospital’s Mobile Mammography program will be offering screening mammograms to Hartford HealthCare employees on Thursday, Oct. 10, between 9 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. in the Curtis Building employee parking lot. The event is being held during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The mammograms are offered for women over the...

EEE

Second EEE Death in State History As More Towns Report Infected Mosquitoes

The first human case of Eastern equine encephalitis of the season, only the second reported in Connecticut history, has produced a chorus of caution from public health officials, medical professions and local communities. The message: Protect yourself from mosquitoes, which transmit the disease, and limit outdoor activity in the twilight...

Suicide Prevention

Suicide Prevention: When People Offering Help Actually Need It

Two recent high-profile suicide deaths of men who worked with those at-risk for suicide highlights the increased suicide rate for those who provide services and care. The importance or raising awareness in September, National Suicide Prevention Month, is highlighted by the deaths of Gregory Eells, the executive director of counseling...


How to Prevent a Suicide? Ask the ‘Guardian of the Golden Gate Bridge’

As a California Highway Patrol Officer, Sgt. Kevin Briggs worked on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, often with suicidal people, but his own struggles with depression made his presentation Sept. 13 even more impactful at the seventh annual World Suicide Prevention Conference at Heublein Hall at Hartford Hospital....

A panel discussion at the World Suicide Prevention Day

Panel: Suicide Prevention Starts with Empathy, Building Connections

As part of the seventh Annual World Suicide Prevention Day Conference Sept. 13, Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network hosted a panel presentation about the role of healthcare providers in suicide prevention. The panel included Behavioral Health Network Physician-in-Chief John Santopietro; Sgt. Kevin Briggs, a retired California Highway Patrol officer and national speaker;...