Naperville mental health hospital celebrating 25 years with benefit concert

Mental Health professionals at Linden Oaks at Edward behavioral health hospital in Naperville would like to say their practice has come a long way toward public acceptance since opening 25 years ago.

But that only would be partially true, says Amit Thaker, director of marketing and business development.

Topics related to mental illness still come with a stigma and still conjure up negative images in many people's minds, he said.

With an event as simple as a fundraiser, Linden Oaks is taking steps to change that.

The hospital is celebrating its 25th anniversary with a cocktail hour, musical performance and lecture about the mental health issues of famous composers.

Dr. Richard Kogan, a Julliard-trained concert pianist and Harvard-educated psychiatrist, will play pieces by American composer George Gershwin and explain the effects of psychological factors and Gershwin's psychiatric illness on those works.

"To be able to approach mental health through the eyes of a concert pianist and a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, it adds a level of intrigue and credibility and it's not so in-your-face mental health," Thaker said.

In an event called "Music and the Mind," part classical concert and part topical lecture on mental health, Kogan will play Gershwin songs such as "Rhapsody in Blue" and "Porgy and Bess."

Bonnie Valiant, a board member of the Edward Foundation, which also raises money for Linden Oaks, has seen Kogan perform three times at a convention in Arizona.

"He is just a beautiful musician," Valiant said. "His lectures about the composers are very, very detailed and informative and his presentation is kind of in a soft-spoken manner, but you really get to understand the composer and the influence of the composer's mental disability in the composition."

Valiant spoke with Kogan after one of his performances in Arizona and invited him to play in Naperville, sparking the idea for the 25th anniversary fundraiser, which is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 24, at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville, 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle.

Learning that acclaimed composers such as Gershwin suffered from "severe mental and behavioral health issues" normalizes mental illnesses and shows people "you shouldn't let your illness or your condition really shackle you," Thaker said.

Linden Oaks plans to continue the conversation about reducing the stigma around mental illnesses with another event in the fall. But Friday's occasion will celebrate the hospital's history of providing inpatient and outpatient treatment in Naperville for conditions such as self-injury, eating disorders, Asperger's syndrome, anxiety and depression.

"It's a milestone that we're really proud of," Thaker said.

If you go

What: Music and the Mind benefit concert for Linden Oaks at Edward behavioral health hospital

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, April 24

Where: Hilton Lisle/Naperville, 3003 Corporate West Drive, Lisle

Details: Dr. Richard Kogan, a Julliard-trained concert pianist and Harvard-educated psychiatrist discusses how mental illness affected composers' works

Cost: $100


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