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

About The Institute of Living
Frederick Law Olmsted
Notable Trees on Campus
Myths, Minds, and Medicine

Special Events

Black & Red ReImagined Event

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

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Black & Red Event
Black & Red Beneficiary

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.

Listen & Learn

Exhibitions & Tours

The Connecticut Historical Society Exhibit Showcases Mental Health

A first-of-its-kind exhibit of the history of mental health treatment in Connecticut and across the nation includes displays about the Institute of Living, which is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2022 and 2023.

The exhibit, “Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health,” opened in the fall of 2021, and will be on display through Oct. 15, 2022, in the galleries of the Connecticut Historical Society in Hartford.

All Hartford HealthCare colleagues can receive free admission to the exhibit by showing their work badge.

Trees of the IOL Self-guided Walking Tour

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Exhibition: Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health

Podcasts More Life Podcasts

The Evolution of Mental Health Care: 200 years at the Institute of Living Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3

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.

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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:

Additionally, 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.

Current Selection

October 6, 2022

"The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison

"The Bluest Eye”, the debut novel by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison published in 1970, and will be the next selection of the IOL at 200 Book and Movie Club.

Participants will discuss the national bestseller and the topic of racial trauma at the free virtual event on Thursday, October 6th from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.

Set in Morrison’s hometown of Lorain, Ohio, in 1940–41, the novel tells the tragic story of Pecola Breedlove, an African American girl from an abusive home. Eleven-year-old Pecola equates beauty and social acceptance with whiteness; she therefore longs to have “the bluest eye.”

We encourage participants to read the book, however, all are welcome to attend.

Please register to ensure you can be kept up to date and receive the zoom link.

Past Selections

July 26, 2022

"Fugitive Pieces" by Anne Michaels. 

The age-old question – the book or the movie? The next gathering of the IOL at 200 Book and Movie Club will discuss both with their next selection "Fugitive Pieces" by Anne Michaels. 

The meeting will be an in-person event with some hybrid capabilities on Tuesday, July 26th from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm at the Commons Building Hartford Room, IOL Campus, 200 retreat Avenue, Hartford.

"In 1940 a boy bursts from the mud of a war-torn Polish city, where he has buried himself to hide from the soldiers who murdered his family. His name is Jakob Beer. He is only seven years old. And although by all rights he should have shared the fate of the other Jews in his village, he has not only survived but been rescued by a Greek geologist, who does not recognize the boy as human until he begins to cry. With this electrifying image, Anne Michaels ushers us into her rapturously acclaimed novel of loss, memory, history, and redemption.

We encourage participants to read the book and/or the movie, however, if participants are not able to do either, the group will share clips from the movie that evening.

Please register to receive updates and confirmation at:

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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