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April 13, 2020 by Jessica Pratt

From the Interim President: Open Excellence in the time COVID-19

Dear Investors and Friends of Open Excellence,

Our hearts are with you now and in the months to come. While we are all in this crisis together, the nature and scope of our suffering will vary greatly. And so we extend compassion to ourselves and others, doing our best to cope and to stand in the gap for one another.

Open Excellence staff continue to work full time from our homes in Oregon, Washington DC and Florida to keep you informed, support our grantees and rally private philanthropy to bring into being the kind of mental health care we want for ourselves and the generations that come after us. Each of our current projects is more relevant than ever in this worldwide crisis and the recovery period to come.

The Rome-based international Open Dialogue research collaboration (HOPEnDialogue) is using its own practice principles to adapt to the needs and opportunities presented by the pandemic to support and improve crisis care now. Instead of its originally scheduled May meeting in Rome which has been postponed until June 2021, the project advisory board is spearheading the development of resources to support Open Dialogue practices around the world, including written guides, live webinars and facilitated online conversations in every country where Open Dialogue is practiced. We will share those resources from as they come online.

Quarantine Relief Effort
Right now, under stay-at-home orders, voice hearers and their families may be confined individually or together over extended periods of crisis and uncertainty. Because of Open Excellence investors, new on-line options are coming online that may well be life saving for some.

Much like in-person meetings, online Hearing Voices groups offer fellowship, solidarity, and an opportunity to make sense of distressing experiences during a time when it is needed more than ever. Hearing Voices friends and family groups equip participants with the skills to support themselves and their loved ones and build understanding all around.

The transition to facilitating online rather than in-person groups involves a particular set of skills, including attention to sensitive privacy and security matters; managing multiple technical aspects; and minimizing disruptions to ensure the best quality experience for all.

Western Massachusetts Recovery Learning Community director of training Caroline Mazel-Carlton and lead trainer Cindy Marty Hadge, both longtime Hearing Voices facilitators and trainers, have the experience to help other Hearing Voices facilitators to make the transition as smooth as possible, for both themselves and participants. Your support is critical at this time.

Pacific Rim Hearing Voices trainer and facilitator John Herold is working with groups in Washington, Oregon and the Pacific Islands to increase their capacity for online support.

Nutrition as Disaster Response
Multiple studies have shown micronutrient supplementation to markedly reduce distress and increase resilience in the wake of major earthquakes and floods. A new multi-site study of the effect of micronutrients on symptoms of ADHD in children has nearly completed its initial randomized phase and will shortly start in on data analysis. Principle investigator Jeni Johnstone and her colleagues recently published two related papers: a demonstration of their primary outcome using a different but similar dataset and a description of the design and rationale of the study.

Let’s stay connected
As our board member and psychologist Gayle Berg reminded us this weekend, “with crisis comes opportunity if we can keep our wits about us to create it or see it”. So let’s stay connected, helping eachother see and create opportunities together. And finally, board member Keris Myrick invites us to laugh and cry with her as we make our way, and to attend the April 15 webinar Structural Competency Innovations & Opportunities in the Era of COVID-19.


Courage, strength and peace,

Jessica Pratt
Interim President & CEO



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