The President’s Track
Presented by the Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being
Session D: 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
About the Program
Through vivid storytelling and direct testimony, Lift the Mask takes us into the lives of a diverse group of people living with mental illness and the people who provide much of their care. The film focuses on the lived experiences of each subject, some of whom are “lifting the mask” by telling their stories publicly for the first time. Stories like these are so often hidden due to the social stigma that labels people as “crazy” or “scary.” Lift the Mask intends to evoke empathy, invite real conversation, and normalize the dialogue around mental health. Join The Quell Foundation for this special screening and panel discussion on this important topic.
You Will Learn
- A greater understanding of the many issues surrounding mental illness (access barriers)
- How to destigmatize and normalize the conversation of mental illness in both personal and professional lives
- How to take action in addressing your own wellbeing
Traci Cipriano, JD, PhD LLC, Woodbridge
Dr. Cipriano is a clinical psychologist and formerly practicing attorney. Her career has been shaped by her passions for promoting mental health and well-being, as well as the countless ways psychology, law and policy intersect. Dr. Cipriano’s clinical work has included working with attorneys and other professionals in distress, as well as providing coaching related to effective communication, conflict resolution, time management, and optimizing productivity. She is a member of the Connecticut Bar Association Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being.
Since 2005, Dr. Cipriano has been presenting to the Connecticut Bar Association, law firms and law schools on the relationships among stress, physical health and psychological well-being, as well as stress management, effective communication and work-life balance. She was invited to present by the Connecticut Bar Foundation in 2013, where she addressed the mental health and substance use issues facing attorneys, the need to de-stigmatize seeking out mental health treatment, and positive ways to reframe mental health treatment.
Dr. Cipriano has been an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Yale School of Medicine, Law and Psychiatry Division since 2010, where she provides clinical supervision to forensic psychology fellows, oversees the writing of legal digest journal articles, and participates in case conferences. She also provides lectures on advocacy to psychology pre-doctoral interns in the Yale School of Medicine. Dr. Cipriano was a Consulting Clinical Supervisor in the Yale Department of Psychology from 2010 – 2016.
For the past 2 ½ years, Dr. Cipriano has been working to promote integration of behavioral health services with treatment-as-usual as the standard of care in the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation System when physicians are treating pain arising out of a work-related injury. She was appointed to the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission Medical Advisory Panel in 2018.
Liz Charpentier, Featured Subject in Lift the Mask
A dynamic young man with a flair for razor-sharp self-reflection and beautiful storytelling, Dennis has struggled with mental illness from a very young age. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and autism. In his teenage years, Dennis had suffered from frequent psychotic episodes and obsessive and compulsive behaviors that caused deep anxiety as well as severe depression. Dennis’ mother Liz has cared and advocated for her son for decades. She advocated to have him placed in a special school and navigated the health care system to get him adequate therapy and effective medication. They faced head-on the possibility that Dennis would end his own life, and their open and frank discussion of suicide is revelatory. Dennis narrates his tale in lucid, affecting detail and surprising insight.
Karen DeMeola is the Assistant Dean for Finance, Administration, and Enrollment at UConn School of Law and is the immediate past president of the Connecticut Bar Association. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from UConn and her J.D. from UConn Law. After graduation from law school, Karen was a civil rights litigator whose practice focused primarily on employment discrimination, police brutality and housing discrimination. While at UConn Law, she has been an adjunct professor teaching Critical Identity Theory and has presented on numerous panels, symposia and conferences on diversifying law school populations, implicit bias, intersectionality, leadership, and diversity and inclusion. Karen has also created numerous pipeline projects, including the CBA Pathways to Legal Careers Pipeline. Karen is a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation.
Karen was the recipient of the 2018 Attorney of the Year Award from the Connecticut Law Tribune; the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity Edwin Archer Randolph Diversity Award; the CWEALF Maria Miller Stewart Award; the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities Constance Baker Motley Award for Business and Law; and the University of Connecticut Spirit Award.
Carrah Kalat, The Quell Foundation; Featured Subject in Lift the Mask, North Falmouth, MA
From the outside, Carrah—an executive performing at a high level at a Fortune 50 company—is the picture of success. Her close friends see her as a accomplished and content woman, but just beneath this surface is the other Carrah. This Carrah struggles with depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. She lives in fear that she and her loved ones are about to suffer from a horrible disease or a terrible accident. Ever since her mother committed suicide, she has struggled with feelings of guilt, inadequacy, anxiety and depression. These feelings are always with her, though she generally manages to hide them from her friends and colleagues. Carrah reveals her deepest fears and insecurities and shows that sometimes the person with a seemingly perfect life can be struggling in silence, hiding
in plain sight.
Michaela Kearney, Featured Subject in Lift the Mask
At 13 years old, Michaela’s struggle with mental illness began after the suicide of her older brother Marshall. Once a happy, flourishing and energetic young girl, Michaela spent much of her teen years burying her emotions in school and swimming and channeling her despair into rage towards he parents. Her PTSD continued to impact her life through high school and into college, eventually making her suicidal and leading to hospitalization for her illness. A fascinating and frank storyteller, Michaela’s recounting of this time in her life and where it has brought her is astounding, honest, and inspirational.
Kevin Lynch, The Quell Foundation; Featured Subject in Lift the Mask, North Falmouth, MA
Kevin called a suicide hotline when he learned his son with bipolar disorder had violated the terms of his parole. 103 days after his release from an eight-year sentence, he was going back to prison at 26. In preparation for his son’s release, Kevin purchased a house to provide a stable place to live with his son. Kevin hoped he could help him stay on track by renovating the house together and applying to college with him — Kevin to grad school, his son to undergrad. Optimistic and dedicated to his son’s success, he provided as much as he could to ease the young man’s reentry, but because he lacked access to treatment, he self-medicated and overdosed on heroin. Kevin tells the story of his son’s mental illness and his own struggles with depression that arose after his son’s re-incarceration.
CLE Credit: 2.0 Hours (CT: 2.0 Ethics; NY: 2.0 Ethics)