American Heart Association launches Boston-based web series focused on mental health

The American Heart Association is hosting a six-part series of virtual engagements in Boston that are focused on mental well-being, mindfulness and remaining resilient. The final session will be held Friday, June 24, at noon, and feature a conversation with Wyatt Kelley, an American Heart Association volunteer who had a stroke in 2011.

Click here to register for the final webinar.

Each conversation is hosted by author Jon Wortmann, a mental health coach, and features conversations with heart and stroke survivors, focusing on their stories of resilience and addressing mental health issues both within and outside the survivor community. The series is locally sponsored by Shark Ninja.

To first five webinars in this series can be viewed at the links below.

Webinar 1: Managing Extreme Emotion
The first webinar was held Tuesday, Sept. 14. Jon’s guest was Lisa Deck, a multiple stroke survivor and health advocate from North Attleboro, who will discuss managing extreme emotion. Watch their conversation below.

Webinar 2: Energy Management
The second webinar was held Thursday, Oct. 28. Jon’s guest was Caitlan Kane, a survivor of a rare form of heart disease that occurs during the last month of pregnancy or up to five months after giving birth. Watch their conversation on energy management below.

Webinar 3: Stress Management
The third webinar was held in November. Jon’s guest was Jayme Kelly, a Massachusetts resident who had a stroke in 2019, when she was 29. Jayme was recently selected to be a national American Heart Association volunteer. Watch their conversation on energy management below.

Webinar 4: Core Memory and Values
The fourth webinar was held in February. Jon’s guest was Valerie Giglio, a local singer, recording artist and lawyer, who shared her inspiring story of recovering from a 2014 stroke. Watch their conversation below.

Webinar 5: Goals and Commitments
The fifth webinar was held in March. Jon’s guest was Nithya Desikan, a leader in the biotech industry who has also served on the American Heart Association’s STEM Goes Red leadership team. Watch their conversation below.


The Mindfulness Series is locally sponsored by Shark Ninja. Here is the complete schedule of webinars:

  • September 14: Managing Extreme Emotion
  • October 28: Energy Management
  • November 30: Stress Management
  • February 4: Core Memory and Values
  • March 31: Goals and Commitments
  • June 24: Making an Impact

Studies have found that psychological health can positively or negatively impact a person’s health and risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Negative psychological health conditions include depression, chronic stress, anxiety, anger, pessimism and dissatisfaction with one’s current life. These conditions are associated with potentially harmful biological responses, such as:

  • irregularities of heart rate and rhythm
  • increased digestive complaints
  • increased blood pressure
  • inflammation
  • reduced blood flow to the heart

Negative psychological health is also associated with health behaviors that are linked to an increased risk for heart disease and stroke, such as smoking, lower levels of physical activity, unhealthy diet, being overweight and not taking medications as prescribed.

People with positive psychological health were also more likely to have health factors linked to a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease:

  • lower blood pressure
  • better glucose control
  • less inflammation
  • lower cholesterol

Positive psychological health is also associated with beneficial health behaviors such as smoking cessation, increased physical activity, heart-healthy eating, increased medication adherence and regular check-ups and health screenings.