The foundation that first put up a massive sign about depression on the side of 166 West 72nd Street in the 1990’s hadn’t spoken to the building’s owners or had anything to do with it in years, a foundation rep told us. Apparently, the building’s owners had simply left it up, until painting it over in recent weeks.
The sign was part of a public service announcement in the 1990’s, explained Lauren Duran, a spokesperson for the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, in an email. The foundation hadn’t talked to the building owners in years about it, and it had simply stayed up and become a kind of landmark over time. We reported a few days ago that the building had suddenly painted it over, which surprised some locals who had gotten used to it. The building’s management still hasn’t gotten back to us.
Through the years it’s clear the sign had become a comfort to people. One woman who posted an image of it on Instagram wrote that “For people who are struggling, including myself, I want to express that it’s okay. There is help out there for those who want it. Don’t be ashamed of who you are and how you feel. Chemistry, not character.”
“Depression is a flaw in chemistry not character” That statement has been painted on this building near 72nd St and Amsterdam for as long as I can remember as a young kid. Perhaps since before that. I wish that more people would realize that this is true about depression as well as other mental illnesses. Being in the mental health field, I am often astounded by how many people stigmatize those experiencing mental health problems, whether it’s a parent asking me why her child “can’t just get it together” or a professional judging a trainee, such as myself, for having symptoms of anxiety and depression before, during, and after my mom’s death. It feels like it’s everywhere, even among those who are supposed to “know better.” So I thought I’d post this as part of my wish to help de-stigmatize mental health issues. Whether related to grieving a loss or not, many people experience mental health issues in their lives. Effective treatments do exist to help many problems, although of course no therapy is a panacea for everything. For people who are struggling, including myself, I want to express that it’s okay. There is help out there for those who want it. Don’t be ashamed of who you are and how you feel. Chemistry, not character. #mom #mum #mother #grieving #sadness #strength #mourning #grief #resilient #strong #heartbroken #loss #bereavement #motherless #motherlessdaughters #mentalhealth #therapy #endthestigma #stigma #mentalillness #support
We’ve always wondered, however, if people with corner windows at The Alexandria on 72nd and Broadway may have ever gotten tired of seeing the yellow sign every day.
The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation remains active in spreading the word about depression and treatment options. It produces a TV series about mental illness called Healthy Minds with Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein that is being shown on WLIW in New York for the next 14 weeks. And it will soon host a symposium in the neighborhood.
“The Foundation also invites the public to attend its 28th Annual New York International Mental Health Research Symposium for families and caregivers, which will take place on the Upper West Side, where some of the world’s leading scientists will discuss the latest research on cognitive neuroscience, and preventing and treating mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, Friday, October 28, 2016, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Kaufman Music Center, 129 West 67th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenues) in Manhattan. For the full program and to register online, visit https://bbrfoundation.org/
foundation-annual-symposium. Admission is free with a suggested donation of $35 per person.”