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IOL Participates in Hartford Public Schools Youth Summit

May 19, 2023

Dr. Javeed Sukhera, chair of Psychiatry at the Institute of Living, and members of the IOL’s Family Resource Center attended a recent Youth Summit put on by the City of Hartford’s Public Schools.

“It was amazing,” says Melissa Deasy, LCSW, director of the IOL’s Residential and Ancillary Services and its Family Resource Center. Deasy and Kelsey Socha, also with the Family Resource Center, joined Dr. Sukhera at the summit, which was called Summit on Ensuring Success for Hartford Public School Youth.

Dr. Sukhera participated in a panel discussion entitled “Partnering with Hartford Youth to Support Their Success.”

“Hearing their voices, seeing them being given space to allow their voices to be heard, and allowing them to partner in these initiatives being discussed was powerful,” Deasy says. “They want to be part of building something new.”

A huge benefit for the IOL team in attendance was learning about and meeting members of existing Youth Councils from across the city of Hartford. The IOL is in the planning stages for a Youth Advisory Council that would allow teens to “have a voice to empower them, to help us think about what treatment might look like,” says Deasy.

“There are so many youth councils out there,” she says. “We can use them as our experts so that we can ultimately (launch) our youth council the right way.”

She has plans to invite some of these groups to visit the IOL and the Family Resource Center to learn more, but also to take advantage of the meeting space and the beautiful grounds that the campus can provide. “This is a chance for us to break down some barriers and bring people into our space,” she says.

An important takeaway from the youth summit was “what the youth were asking for. And every single speaker connected it to mental health. How to break the isolation, how to connect with others. The youth asked that more space be created for open dialog, a safe space be created for resources and staff to support them on their journeys.”