Matters of the mind

Upcoming programs in Hinsdale address issues of mental health, wellness

The reopened post-pandemic society is one that has also seemingly created more room for conversations about mental health issues. That is certainly true in Hinsdale, which plays host to two mental health-related programs and one on Alzheimer’s in the next couple of weeks. Here’s a little about each of them to provide some food for thought.

Overcoming anxiety

Dina Scolan from The OCD & Anxiety Center said she’s seen an increase in adolescent and teen anxiety since the pandemic.

“Kids are having difficulty socializing normally, and a lot of them are having trouble sleeping and it’s impairing their lives,” she said.

The good news is families are more willing to talk about it than in generations past. Scolan will help facilitate the conversation with parents with her presentation “Anxiety and OCD 101” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, in the Hinsdale Central library.

“Parents are doing the best that they can, but many don’t have the strategies and skills to help their children overcome the anxiety,” she said.

Through her presentation, which is sponsored by the D86 Parent Network Committee, Scolan hope parents gain a basic understanding about the most common anxiety disorders along with tips to build resilience in their kids.

“People are looking for anxiety to be treated and removed, but everybody has a little bit of anxiety,” she said. “The goal is to minimize it so it’s minimally impairing but also develop resilience for the part that will likely remain.

“There’s a little bit of acceptance that’s going to have to occur,” Scolan added.

Obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD, is a medical diagnosis that can be extremely debilitating, she explained. But there are methods to bring it under control.

“Even for parents of a child who has a clinical diagnosis, the tips and strategies that will succeed are going to build resilience in order to keep them on a healthy path,” she said.

The library is located on the second floor of the school at 5500 S. Grant St. For more information, visit

Responding to trauma

Similar to anxiety management, resilience is also a critical tool in taking back control after a high-stress or traumatic experience, according to Rev. Tammy Roach of Hinsdale Covenant Church.

Roach and her husband, Dan, a retired law enforcement officer and current training coordinator for the Northern Illinois Critical Incident Stress Management Team, will present the program “Resiliency After Stress & Trauma” at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 20, at Hinsdale Covenant as part of the church’s Mental Health Night series.

Roach, who also serves as chaplain for the Plainfield police and fire departments, said the program aims to help attendees identify and acknowledge stress and trauma in their life and equip them with holistic tools to restore emotional health.

“My husband and I teach resilience courses to first responders and their families,” Roach said.

This talk is designed for everyone and is centered around the four dimensions of resiliency: mind, body, spirit and relationship.

“We focus on what we feel are the foundations to resiliency,” she said. “We’re going to do a brief overview of what that looks like and provide skills they can apply pretty much when they walk out the door.”

Roach said she thinks individuals have become more receptive to the need for healthy coping methods in response to stress.

“I think more people are willing to take responsibility for their overall wellness and learn to adapt, in the face of the stress and traumas that we all face, in order to thrive and live a flourishing life,” she commented.

And the techniques are transferable.

“When adults learn to build up these skills, they can model them for their children,” she said.

Hinsdale Covenant Church is located at 412 S. Garfield Ave. Visit for more information

Understanding Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s Disease affects millions of Americans everyday, but it is simply the most common form of dementia. In the presentation Understanding Alzheimer’s and Dementia from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 12, at the Hinsdale Public Library, learn about the disease, the difference between Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, stages and risk factors, and current research and treatments available for some symptoms.

John Hosteny, volunteer community educator for the Alzheimer’s Association Illinois Chapter, said the program will shed light on some of the mystery around the condition.

“We will explain that dementia is an umbrella term that captures many types of dementia, including Alzheimer’s,” he said. “We’ll talk about how the disease affects the brain and the risk factors of Alzheimer’s. The greatest risk factor is age: about one-third of all seniors age 85 have some type of dementia.”

The program, which will be led by Hadi Sinerty, the association’s senior manager for education & community volunteers, will also share the abundant resources available for caregivers, which include scripts for how to broach the sensitive subject with a loved one and how to discuss it with a doctor.

“We also have a 24-hour hotline where trained care specialists and master level clinicians will answer questions,” Hosteny said.

The association is working to deepen connections with community-based organizations like libraries, he related, in an effort to erode any stigma and misconceptions.

“We explain the importance of an accurate diagnosis,” he said. “Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of aging, and if people don’t address it early, it could become a much bigger problem.”

The library is located at 20 E. Maple St. To register for the program, visit or call (630) 986-1976.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean