On May 13, 2021, Tara’s Closet and Jewish Family Services announced our new series, Tara’s Talks Mental Health Community Conversations.

This series includes conversations with community members, professionals, and individuals sharing their stories about mental health.  The goal of this series is to bring much-needed awareness to these important issues and decrease the stigma around mental health.

Episode 1 – Bipolar Disorder

Katie Hanley, chief executive officer of Jewish Family Services, is joined by mother and daughter, Sonja Wasden and Rachael Siddoway, as well as JFS Clinician Heidi Hart, LCSW for an in-depth conversation about living with bipolar disorder.

CONTENT WARNING – This conversation includes a discussion on suicide.

Sonja Wasden has traveled the country speaking with Fortune 500 companies, government officials, advocacy groups, and media outlets about the importance of mental health. Along with Rachael, Sonja has been interviewed over 50 times on local and national news sharing her story with millions of people.

Rachael Siddoway is an author, keynote speaker, and mental health advocate. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Art Education. She started writing novels at the age of twelve and hasn’t stopped drafting new book ideas since. A lover of cats and poetry, she lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband Brett.

Heidi Hart is a licensed clinical social worker with an MBA. She worked in the finance field before staying home to raise her 3 children. Heidi decided to go into social work as a result of several life-changing experiences and has been working in clinical and community mental health for the last 15+ years. Heidi has been at JFS as a mental health clinician working with adults and older adults for the last 3 years, and also interned at JFS many years ago while in grad school.

Her therapeutic work has included treating clients with symptoms related to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, substance use, chronic psychiatric illness, trauma, bereavement, and eating disorders, among others. She is certified in EMDR therapy and relies heavily on EMDR, DBT, and CBT interventions when treating clients.

In addition to her job at JFS, Heidi works as a crisis worker in the Emergency Room at Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington, Connecticut.

If you’re experiencing a medical emergency
Always call 911 first if you or someone you love is experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency or maybe a danger to someone else.

Call 211
If you need assistance locating long-term mental health resources, talking through a problem, or exploring mental health treatment options, call 211 to speak with a live person who can help.

  • 211 conversations are confidential, can be made anonymously, and are available in 180 languages upon request.
  • If you prefer to text, use web chat, or search for resources online, click here to find more ways to contact your local 211.

 Other Mental Health Hotlines

You can always call 211 to speak to someone and find local assistance, but there are also dedicated helplines available to anyone in the U.S.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline Live Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Veterans Crisis Line: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1; or text 838255
  • Crisis Text Line: text the word ‘Home’ to 741-741
  • The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth: call 1-866-488-7386
  • The Trans Lifeline: call 1-877-565-8860
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance DBSA

https://www.dbsalliance.org/

International Society for Bipolar Disorder ISBD

https://www.isbd.org/

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

https://www.nami.org

NAMI Page on Bipolar Disorder

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Bipolar-Disorder

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/bipolar-disorder

“An Impossible Life: The Inspiring True Story of a Woman’s Struggle from Within”

By Rachael Siddoway and Sonja Wasden

https://animpossiblelife.com/

Episode 2 – Social Isolation and People with Disabilities

Katie Hanley, chief executive officer of Jewish Family Services, is joined by Brett Glaser, Special Olympics Connecticut’s athlete, board member, and global messenger, and Caitlin Daikus, MPH, CHES, Director of Health and Wellness at Special Olympics Connecticut for an inspiring conversation about social isolation and people with disabilities.

Brett Glaser is from Madison, Connecticut. Some of his friends call me BTM or just Brett. Brett joined the Special Olympics Middletown local program in 2015. He serves on the Special Olympics Connecticut Board of Directors and joined the Board in 2018. Brett was chosen to compete in the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle, Washington, to play tennis singles and unified doubles.

He has worked for the town of Madison, Connecticut as a facility monitor for 14 years. He is obsessed with cars and loves to read DuPont registry magazines and go to car shows. With a lot of practice he was able to get my driver’s license.

Caitlin Daikus, MPH, CHES, is the Director of Health and Wellness department at Special Olympics Connecticut overseeing health and fitness programs that focus on increasing access to quality health services and programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health from Western Connecticut State University in 2008 and received her Master of Public Health (MPH) from Southern Connecticut State University. Caitlin maintains professional certification as a health education specialist and has experience working in the healthcare field in addition to over nine years in the not-for-profit sector.

Special Olympics Connecticut

https://www.soct.org/

If you’re experiencing a medical emergency
Always call 911 first if you or someone you love is experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency or maybe a danger to someone else.

Call 211
If you need assistance locating long-term mental health resources, talking through a problem, or exploring mental health treatment options, call 211 to speak with a live person who can help.

  • 211 conversations are confidential, can be made anonymously, and are available in 180 languages upon request.
  • If you prefer to text, use web chat, or search for resources online, click here to find more ways to contact your local 211.

 Other Mental Health Hotlines

You can always call 211 to speak to someone and find local assistance, but there are also dedicated helplines available to anyone in the U.S.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline Live Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Veterans Crisis Line: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1; or text 838255
  • Crisis Text Line: text the word ‘Home’ to 741-741
  • The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth: call 1-866-488-7386
  • The Trans Lifeline: call 1-877-565-8860
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Episode 3 – Supporting People with Disabilities During the Pandemic

This episode focuses on the impacts of social isolation on the mental health of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and some of the resources available to help combat this isolation.

Katie Hanley, chief executive officer of Jewish Family Services, is joined by Dayna Clark, Adult Special Needs Program Coordinator, Mandell JCC in West Hartford, Elena Fader, Director of Assistive Technology (AT) at New England Assistive Technology (NEAT), an Oak Hill Center, Juliana Fetherman, the founder and CEO of web app Making Authentic Friendships, LLC, and Janice Rothstein, Director of Clinical Services, Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford.

It’s very important that when having conversations about people with disabilities that we involve them in the conversation. Check out Episode 2 – Social Isolation and People with Disabilities – which is focused on the lived experience of people with disabilities.

Dayna Clark is the Adult Special Needs Program Coordinator of the Mandell JCC in West Hartford. Her passion for inclusion and community has stemmed from childhood carrying through to adulthood, shaping her career and day to day life. She strives to practice kindness, spread awareness, and carry high values within her program and beyond.

Elena Fader is the Director of Assistive Technology (AT) at New England Assistive Technology (NEAT), an Oak Hill Center, in Hartford, CT. As a licensed speech-language pathologist with an AT certificate, she is driven by the ways that technology can empower and create opportunities for those with different abilities. Elena leads a prestigious team of AT and AAC Specialists who each contribute unique areas of expertise to local, national, and global communities.

Juliana Fetherman is the founder and CEO of Making Authentic Friendships LLC, an interactive web app that enables children and adults with special needs to make friends based on age, diagnosis, interests and geographic location. Making Authentic Friendships, MAF, are also her brother’s initials. Her brother Michael is 22, has autism and ADHD and inspired this initiative.

Janice Rothstein is the Director of Clinical Services here at Jewish Family Services of Greater Hartford. With extensive expertise as a special educator and seasoned therapist, Janice provides clinical oversight for all JFS Clinical Services and Mental Health programs. The JFS philosophy of treatment is very comprehensive, family-centered and specialized for the unique needs of each individual and family. The goal of all JFS behavioral health services is to strengthen and empower people of all ages through counseling and advocacy, enhancing each client’s functioning and quality of life.

Mandell JCC of Greater Hartford
Adult Special Needs Programming

https://www.mandelljcc.org/index.php?submenu=ByInterest&src=gendocs&ref=SpecialNeeds&category=Adults

Oak Hill

Assistive Technology: https://assistivetechnology.oakhillct.org/

Center for Relationship and Sexuality Education: https://relationshipandsexuality.oakhillct.org/

Making Authentic Friendships App

https://www.makingauthenticfriendships.com/

If you’re experiencing a medical emergency
Always call 911 first if you or someone you love is experiencing a life-threatening medical emergency or maybe a danger to someone else.

Call 211
If you need assistance locating long-term mental health resources, talking through a problem, or exploring mental health treatment options, call 211 to speak with a live person who can help.

  • 211 conversations are confidential, can be made anonymously, and are available in 180 languages upon request.
  • If you prefer to text, use web chat, or search for resources online, click here to find more ways to contact your local 211.

 Other Mental Health Hotlines

You can always call 211 to speak to someone and find local assistance, but there are also dedicated helplines available to anyone in the U.S.

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline Live Chat: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  • Veterans Crisis Line: call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1; or text 838255
  • Crisis Text Line: text the word ‘Home’ to 741-741
  • The Trevor Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth: call 1-866-488-7386
  • The Trans Lifeline: call 1-877-565-8860
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)