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.”
Now does anyone know what the work crews are working on on the SW corner of 72/Columbus? Whatever it is has been taking forever.
In typical NYC fashion, the work being done on 72nd and Columbus has taken forever. We are lucky when they decide to show up once or twice a week. Or not show up for the whole week. Anyhow, the building on the corner with the Swatch shop is the reason. Apparently every time it rains, their basement floods. So the city ripped up the sidewalk and part of the street and waterproofed the whole area to stop the leaking.
I missed it immediately. When I bought my apartment in ’08 and saw that outside my living room window and knew I had landed in the perfect spot. I still know I landed in the perfect spot but I miss my sign of perfect acceptance.
We looked right at it. Eyesore – glad it’s gone
Yes, join me as we scrub the city of everything interesting or gritty or weird and paint it beige.
Yeah, doesn’t matter that it became a part of the character and landscape of the upper west side all these years and most likely gave comfort to many suffering from depression.
Would you be more comfortable looking at a 100 story luxury high rise? Yeah… then you’d feel right at home.
Depression didn’t exist in this city before DeBlasio became the mayor.
So great that you wrote this. LOL.
I hope that The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation will celebrate its’ Symposium next week by repainting their message for New Yorkers and for visitors to New York who see their sign on all their city tours.
I love how you went to such lengths to get to the bottom of that mystery. Maybe you could use those same skills to find out why there has been scaffolding for so long on the building at Amsterdam and 76th!
Think of it as a porch. I do.
That sign was depressing in and of itself. It always made me think of UWS crazy cat ladies.
Haha. Yeah I always thought it made the neighborhood look a little run-down, like the building it was on was abandoned or condemned.
That’s unfortunate. The whole point of the sign was to say that people with depression are not only “crazy cat ladies”. It’s a shame that, for all the times you saw it and, perhaps, read the words, you never thought about it.
As a future crazy cat lady, I don’t know why you would object to us. WE are harmless.
Sean, you sound prejudiced against people experiencing emotional issues, cats and ladies– a self-hating west-sider, projecting his negative character-is-tics onto others. I am a woman who loves cats, and as far as I am concerned, they keep me sane! West Side Animal Lovers Unite!
How come half the time I leave a comment, I never see it? Just wondering…(it was for Sean, esp.) Let’s see if this gets in and then I’ll post again when I have another minute–I’m in the subway now🎃
Our comments are moderated, so that may be why you see a delay. WSR
Nice to know the backstory, but I don’t understand why people would be upset that it’s gone. The building owners are free to do what they wish within the bounds of the law. It’s not like the sign was some sort of landmark. Who cares?
“Who cares?” The people who’ve said they care.
If you “don’t understand why people would be upset that it’s gone”, perhaps you should read what people have written about why they’re upset that it’s gone.
You may feel otherwise; you may not care that it’s gone. But don’t dismiss other people who do care. Disagree if you like, but at least acknowledge others who hold opinions different from yours.
Bring back the sign I say! It was a good message, and it added character to the neighborhood.
Personally, I found that sign
annoying, but I realized that it could
be of some help to people suffering
from actual clinical depression, and
so I thought it a good thing, despite
my own feelings.
My annoyance came from personal
experience with two different types
of person. I’ve known many people,
including myself, who have gone
through periods (or lifetimes) of
real emotional difficulty due to
life events and/or chemical inbalances.
But I’ve also known people who had
no cause for the emotional problems
that they complained of, and that
they used to deliberately manipulate
others. Some people really need
and deserve assistance. Some are
just wankers who found an excuse
to have others indulge their refusal
to grow up.
Sometimes it can be difficult
for even a trained professional
to know which category a person
falls into. As a matter of
ethics and good manners, I think
any person in apparent distress
should be given the benefit of
the doubt – there but for fortune
could go you or I. But don’t
co-sign a loan for them unless
you can afford to lose the money.
At least they painted over it with a color that matches and blends in with the rest of the building. Oh, wait…………..