Edie Brous
Nurse Attorney
118 East 28th Street
Room 404
New York, NY 10016
Tel. (212) 989-5469
Fax. (646) 349-5355

Web Site:

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"Whether an illness affects
your heart, your leg or your brain,

It's still an illness, and there should be no distinction."
Michelle Obama

I once asked my therapist why it was taking so long in working with her to get a handle on my depression. I just wanted to wake up one morning and - poof! – It would be gone. She told me to not be in such a hurry for mental health because I would find it to be a lonely place – “You won’t have a lot of company.” And the healthier I became, the more correct she seemed to be.  I don’t know a single person who has not struggled with something.

Depression, anxiety, insecurity, PTSD, chronic sleep deprivation, addiction, eating disorders, ADHD, ASD, dementia, post-partum depression, unresolved grief, and other ailments are part of the human condition affecting tens of millions of people in our country. My mother was one of them. She suffered from bipolar disorder with psychotic features and struggled all her life to achieve some peace of mind. She was never able to do so.  A dear friend of mine also struggled to achieve peace of mind, was unable to do so, and took his own life.

I was lucky. I had a skilled and ridiculously patient therapist who persisted in making me healthier. But more than half of the people with mental health issues do not get the help they need. There are many barriers related to funding, resources, and access, but the most persistent barrier to people accessing services is the stigma attached to doing so. Fear of being judged dissuades people from seeking help. Shame and embarrassment are disincentives.

The pervasive conflation of mental health conditions with criminality and violence intensifies this problem.  The vast majority of people suffering from even severe conditions such a schizophrenia have never been violent. Previous violence is a much more accurate predictor of future violence than any psychiatric diagnosis. In fact, people suffering from mental health disorders are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

Labels matter. Words matter. Language matters. Referring to people with mental health issues as “sickos” or “savage sickos” and suggesting that they need “mental institutions;” referring to someone as “an insane monster” who is “nuts” and “crazy;” etc. perpetuates the stigma and further deters those who need help from getting it.  Negative stereotyping, scapegoating and bullying are discriminatory, disrespectful, and counterproductive. Surely we can do better and support those who need help by recognizing our own biases and exercising compassion in our language. Here are some resources to refer people to help:
Bar Admissions:
  • New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
  • Southern and Eastern Districts New York Federal Courts
  • United States Supreme Court
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Copyright © 2018, Edie Brous, RN, Esq.