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IOL Names Campus Building in Honor of Hank Schwartz

October 04, 2023

Harold (Hank) Schwartz, MD, whose legacy includes helping transform the Institute of Living (IOL) into one of the nation’s leading modern-day mental health institutions, was honored Thursday with the naming and dedication of the Schwartz Commons Building, home of the Hank Schwartz Education Center, at the IOL.

The day also marked the official reopening of “Myths, Minds, and Medicine: Two Centuries of Mental Health Care,” the IOL’s museum. This museum was a labor of love for Dr. Schwartz.

Throughout his 35-year career at the IOL, Dr. Schwartz played significant part in how clinicians deliver psychiatric care locally, in Connecticut and across the nation. He is also known for never shying away from topics he felt were important.

Dr. Schwartz is a mental health advocate, master storyteller and writer, with op-eds, blogs, book chapters and more than 100 published peer-reviewed articles to his credit. He is also well known for speaking out and educating the public on current events and tragedies that affect and shape our lives and communities. Dr. Schwartz will forever be remembered in Connecticut for his instrumental work following the Sandy Hook massacre.

In 2018, Dr. Schwartz stepped down as IOL psychiatrist-in-chief, although he has continued seeing patients, mentoring, researching and writing on the IOL campus.

When the renaming of the Commons building was announced in 2018, “I was amazed and honored,” Dr. Schwartz said. “It means an enormous amount to me, especially since I spent my entire professional life devoted to the IOL.”

Dr. Schwartz noted that the IOL has a tradition of naming buildings after people “who led the way through significant changes. I am honored to be thought worthy of that.”

John Santopietro, MD, is senior vice president of Hartford HealthCare and physician-in-chief of its Behavioral Health Network. “Hank Schwartz is a rock star in the world of mental health pure and simple,” he said. “It’s hard to imagine anyone having more of an impact on an organization – particularly as it relates to the dignity of the patient – than Hank has had. It’s only fitting that we honor that legacy with this building.”

Dr. Schwartz is credited as moving forward many new programs at the IOL, beginning with the introduction of the Schizophrenia Initiative, a multi-faceted process that led to the development and facilitation of research and new programs for patients based on the cognitive rehabilitation approach. This led to the creation of the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center, which is doing cutting-edge research and generating millions of dollars in grants. Additional programs developed during his tenure were The Potential Program, which helps young people showing the first signs of mental illness, The Anxiety Disorders Center/Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and The Depression Initiative, which enhanced mood-disorder programs.

During Dr. Schwartz’s tenure, the IOL received U.S. News and World Report recognition and re-established its residency programs to train mental health professionals in three tracks — adult, child and adolescent and psychosomatic medicine. He also served on the Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Commission on Mental Health in 2000, which helped pass mental health laws that have benefited patients.

“I take great pride in what we accomplished,” Dr. Schwartz said. “What I accomplished depended on so many people. It was not due to just one person.”