Hazleton to host documentary and panel discussion about mental illness Oct. 1

HAZLETON, Pa. — Penn State Hazleton will host a special presentation, “Lift the Mask: Portraits of Life with Mental Illness," a documentary and panel discussion, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 1, in the Black Box Theater of the Slusser/Bayzick Building.

“Lift the Mask: Portraits of Life with Mental Illness” is presented by the Quell Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to reduce the number of suicides, overdoses and incarcerations of people with mental-health illness. It aims to promote open, judgment-free dialogue to break through stigmas and normalize conversations about mental health.

“Lift the Mask” tells the often-harrowing, sometimes hopeful stories of six individuals living with behavioral and mental health diagnoses. From the onset of symptoms and the quest for a diagnosis, to managing the subsequent treatments and medications, the film’s subjects frankly discuss the most difficult and traumatic moments of their journeys. These six people of very different backgrounds navigate social stigmas, suicide and incarceration. The film finds both devastation and hope as these characters struggle with some of the most debilitating and misunderstood of illnesses.

The Quell Foundation encourages people to share their stories while championing increased access to mental health services. The foundation also works to train first-responders to recognize mental-health crisis warning signs among their own. The Quell Foundation awards scholarships to students who have lost a parent, caregiver or sibling to suicide; students diagnosed with mental health conditions; and students pursuing a degree in psychology, social work or other fields of study related to the provision of mental health services.

Kevin Lynch, president and CEO of the Quell Foundation, will serve as one of the panelists. Lynch is a Penn State alumnus and veteran of the U.S. Navy who worked for more than 16 years as a member of senior management teams at three different hospital systems (Miami Heart Institute, University Hospital and JFK Medical Center) before spending five years at HCA’s East Florida Division Office. On a mission to change the care and treatment of people with mental illness, he founded the Quell Foundation. He was invited to speak at the White House as a panelist during the “Making Health Care Better” series on mental health in 2016.

Other panelists include Dana Sukeena, Penn State Hazleton campus counselor; Sarah Marshall, director of marketing and communications at Quell; and Andrew Brink, Penn State Hazleton student.

For more information about the presentation, contact Sukeena at [email protected] or 570-294-0711.