Actor Jenny Mollen, candid about her mental health struggles, to headline Darien’s Center for HOPE luncheon

DARIEN — Actor and best-selling author Jenny Mollen has used her struggle with mental health issues in her comedy and her writing.

Now she’s bringing that same understanding wit to Darien.

Mollen will be the keynote speaker at The Center for HOPE’s 40th anniversary annual luncheon on Sept. 15.

Known for sharing hilarious and unfiltered stories in her New York Times bestselling books, Mollen has been candid about her own struggles with depression and eating disorders.

She is the author of two essay collections, a novel and a new cookbook Dictator Lunches. Previously dubbed one of the funniest women on Instagram and Twitter, she frequently shares stories about her life and family with her half million followers.

She has appeared in numerous film and television projects, notably as a guest actor in Chicago Fire, Girls and Angel. Her most recent credits include the 2016 film Amateur Night alongside her husband Jason Biggs and the series I Like You Just the Way I Am, based on her book of the same name.

Mollen is an advocate for mental health counseling and has been candid about her own struggles with depression and eating disorders.

She said she was drawn to the Center for HOPE because of the wide range of resources available, calling programs provided by the Center “a gift to a community to have that kind of support.”

Five years ago, Mollen’s brother was hospitalized with an infected atrial myxoma, a rare non-cancerous tumor on his heart. She credits therapy for helping support her brother and her family through the life-altering experience.

“When something tragic or traumatic happens, it’s not just happening to that person — it’s really happening to the entire family,” Mollen said. “If it weren’t for therapy, I don’t know that we would have been able to get through the way we did.”

Founded in Darien in 1982, the Center for HOPE provides counseling and support services for people coping with illness, grief or loss. The organization merged with Greenwich-based Family Centers in 2005.

“It's a wonderful milestone,” Family Centers CEO Bob Arnold said. “I think it's worth celebrating that we have this resource here in Fairfield County, and that it's benefiting so many people.”

Arnold praised the “funny and humorous” Mollen for sharing her experiences with guests at the luncheon.

“You can look at people who are moving forward with their lives, are successful, present a really positive image and, yet, they too have had to work through difficult issues,” he said. “The extent to which we share that with each other, I think it’s both comforting and inspiring.”

The Center for HOPE will also present the Spirit of Resiliency Award to interior designer Amanda Lindroth.

Proceeds from the luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Wee Burn Beach Club in Rowayton, will benefit the Center for HOPE and The Den for Grieving Kids, programs offering bereavement and critical illness support.

Tickets are available at the Family Centers website for $125. A copy of Mollen’s debut novel “City of Stars” is included with admission.