Radical Recovery

Through 2023, The Institute of Living (IOL) is continuing to celebrate its 200th anniversary and honor its incredible and brilliant legacy.

Learn more about the IOL and what we are doing today:

At the same time is has begun writing the next chapter in its history. Beginning in 2022 and over the course of the last year as part of the IOL’s bicentennial anniversary, IOL leaders and colleagues have sought feedback from dozens of internal and external stakeholders and what came through loud and clear was that to address the challenges and changing mental healthcare environment of today we need to do something radical.

We need a Radical Recovery.

The IOL held an exciting Radical Recovery Summit in Fall, 2023, that brought together HHC colleagues and changemakers, organized around three key conversations about challenges, tensions, and aspirations for the future. Meet the speakers here.

Please check back with this page in the future to view our progress on Radical Recovery.


Radical Recovery - Background

From Moral Treatment to Radical Recovery

As the IOL approached its bicentennial during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a desire to engage broadly with internal and external partners to co-write the next chapter in the organization’s history. As part of Hartford Healthcare, the organization sought to prioritize access, affordability, equity, and excellence as part of its strategic direction. Yet, also recognized that more robust engagement would help translate the principles of Moral Treatment into the 21st century. The IOL was once a beacon for other organizations, providing thought leadership and guidance on how to center the dignity of those suffering.

A series of focus groups were held with internal and external stakeholders ranging from staff within the IOL to key areas and departments of Hartford Hospital and Hartford Healthcare. There was also considerable community engagement with social service organizations and partners, and engagement with civic leaders in the city of Hartford.

The engagement process led to several insights into the IOL’s strengths and opportunities for improvement. There was also greater clarity regarding aspirations for the future and potential metrics of success. It was clear from the first phase of engagement that the IOL is the birthplace of modern psychiatry in New England with a longstanding tradition of service, advocacy, and excellence. There was pride in the mission of providing the best and most effective treatments for complex forms of mental illness, education for the mental health workforce of the future, and the dissemination of high-impact research. However, there was also recognition that not all members of our community are able to access the services they need.

Opportunities included expanding the IOL’s model of care beyond a restrictive focus on biomedical interventions towards a more integrative approach that is more holistic while remaining anchored to evidence. There was also a desire to reduce fragmentation, enhance engagement with families, caregivers, and communities, and build a stronger foundation of staff well-being. Above all, we knew we wanted to continue our tradition while being bold and innovative for the future.

The concept of Radical Recovery can mean different things to different people. For us at the IOL, it is a vision that encompasses our past, present, and future.

We believe in a future for mental healthcare that is far more patient-centered, far less coercive, and far more attuned to the healing power of community.

We believe in a system where healers and sufferers co-design spaces for true healing.

We believe in a future for mental healthcare that is co-designed with those who have lived and living experience of suffering.

Radical Recovery is anchored on the principles of integration, liberation, and innovation.

Radical Recovery - Principals

Radical Recovery - Goals

Radical Recovery - Goals

The Institute of Living has created the following video that highlights current thought leaders and services and a message for the future: