About the Cole Center

Mission Statement

Founding members

Founding Members: (from left to right) Everett Page, Evie Barkin and Anne Whitman, Ph.D.

The Jonathan O.Cole Mental Health Consumer Resource Center (Cole Center) is a "consumer-to-consumer education and recovery community" dedicated to helping mental health consumers achieve full and healthy lives. To this end, consumers concerns are addressed with the compassion and pragmatism necessary to alleviate hardship and facilitate recovery.

The Resource Center proves up-to-date educational materials, trainings, and media outreach to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. The Resource Center was founded, and staffed and operated entirely by volunteer mental health consumers who have themselves dealt successfully with mental illness. The center is a national model for other resource centers that share a consumer-run approach and close partnership with the psychiatric community.

Evie Barkin, Executive Director

Evie Barkin

Evie Barkin

As the executive director and co-founder of the Jonathan O. Cole Mental Health Consumer Resource Center, Evie Barkin is helping to erase the stigma of psychiatric illness.

Evie, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1976, knows firsthand what it is like to have a psychiatric illness and how important it is to have a strong support network to lean on.

"It took ten years of being in and out of the hospital for me to finally find a medication that worked for me," says Evie. "In those ten years, I had some very low periods, and having a place like the Cole Center would have helped."

Once Evie’s bipolar was controlled, she says, she slowly regained her confidence and control. She became more outgoing and determined not to let illness rule her life. She joined the Manic Depressive and Depressive Association (MDDA), now known as the Depression-Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) that inspired her to take on more responsibility.

"I felt great because I was relating to people who had the same diagnosis but who were doing well," Evie recalls. "It made me want to help others with mental illness. The more I accomplished, the better I felt."

As a member of MDDA, Evie received countless inquires from mental health consumers seeking information about illnesses, the American Disabilities Act and the process of finding a job. Noting the lack of resources available to serve this population, Evie joined with Anne Whitman, Ph.D., also has bipolar disorder and a member of MDDA, to establish the Cole Resource Center. Since its opening in 1993, the Resource Center has acted as a beacon of light for many in the mental health community. "The Cole Center developed into something far more than we expected," Evie says. "Today the Cole Center is revered as a model for consumer resource centers nationally and internationally."

The Center helps countless consumers cope with their illness, find resources, look for employment, and gain the confidence they need to re-enter the community and lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

"We have shown our peers that there is life after psychiatric illness," says Evie.

Board of Directors

Staff

Jonathan O. Cole, MD

Jonathan O. Cole, MD

About Jonathan O. Cole, MD

The Cole Center is named after Jonathan O. Cole, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Senior Consultant in Psychopharmacology at McLean Hospital. Dr. Cole was active in clinical psychopharmacology for almost 50 years.

Dr. Cole was loved and admired by McLean Hospital staff, patients, family members and friends and was known internationally as an expert in the field of psychiatry and psychopharmacology. He treated hundreds of patients and what better than to have a Consumer Resource Center that services patients in his namesake.