This May is Mental Health Awareness month and today I speak with Kathy Flaherty about mental health advocacy. Kathy is the Executive Director of Connecticut Legal Rights Project a statewide non-profit agency that provides legal services to low income individuals with mental health conditions, who reside in hospitals or the community, on matters related to their treatment, recovery, and civil rights. Kathy combines her personal experience as a recipient of mental health services and her legal background to speak to issues affecting those living with mental health conditions.
*Content warnings: this interview will discuss the following topics that may be traumatic and triggering: gun violence, hospitalization, psychiatric institutions, forced medication, suicide, and suicidal ideation.
Flaherty, Kathleen. (March 29, 2020). I had to go to the hospital, and what I saw terrified me. Hartford Courant.
Flaherty, Kathy and Ann Pratt. (April 27, 2019). Don’t cut the safety net. Ask for more from those most able to contribute. Hartford Courant.
Flaherty, Kathleen. (March 2, 2018). How I Know That Psychiatric Hospitals Don’t Cure Gun Violence. Hartford Courant.
Flaherty, Kathleen. (January 17, 2018). Let’s talk about real issues, not Trump’s mental health. CT Mirror.
Flaherty, Kathleen. (January 13, 2015). Involuntary mental health treatment no fix. Hartford Courant.
Since 2015, Kathy Flaherty has served as Executive Director of Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc. (CLRP) (www.clrp.org) a statewide non-profit agency that provides legal services to low income individuals with mental health conditions, who reside in hospitals or the community, on matters related to their treatment, recovery, and civil rights. Kathy spent 13 years as a Staff Attorney at Statewide Legal Services of CT, Inc., the centralized intake hotline for all the Connecticut legal services programs.
Kathy combines her personal experience as a recipient of mental health services and her legal background to speak to issues affecting those living with mental health conditions.
Kathy is currently a member of the Board of Directors of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers-CT (the state’s lawyer assistance program) www.lclct.org ; she is a member of the Advisory Board of the Connecticut Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement (CABLE) (www.cableweb.org.) Kathy is the co-chair of the Keep the Promise Coalition (http://www.ctkeepthepromise.org/), a coalition of advocates (people living with mental health conditions, family members, mental health professionals and interested community members) with a vision of a state in which people with mental health conditions are able to live successfully in the community because they have access to housing and other community-based supports and services that are recovery oriented, person-driven and holistic in their approach to wellness. She is also a member of the steering committee of the Connecticut Cross Disability Lifespan Alliance (http://bit.ly/CCDLA), an alliance of people of all ages with all disabilities who pursue a unified agenda in support of building a great life in the community.
A graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard Law School, Kathy has dedicated her professional life to advocating for the rights of the underserved.
Kathy lives in her hometown of Newington with her husband, Jim Valentino, and their rescue dog Bella.
Kathy is on Twitter @ConnConnection and is on Instagram at @reddevilsfan8332. Kathy has written op-eds published in the Hartford Courant and CT Mirror on a variety of topics, including politics, law, mental health, adoptee rights, and soccer.
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Cheryl Green, Audio Producer and Text Transcript
Alice Wong, Writer, Audio Producer, Host
Lateef McLeod, Introduction
Mike Mort, Artwork
Theme Music (used with permission of artist)
Song: “Dance Off”
Artist: Wheelchair Sports Camp
“Awakenings” by Ketsa. (Source: freemusicarchive.org. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License)