The Courage to be Heard

The road to wellness is paved with love, work and creativity


It’s been many years since Robert David Jaffee experienced two psychotic breaks but his detailed retelling of his own mental health journey makes him a sought-after speaker on a topic that has historically been stigmatized.

Robert understands how debilitating depression is. He has suffered from it his whole life. He has also endured two bouts of acute psychosis and suicidal ideation.

His personal story includes a family history with three suicides.

A Yale graduate and an award-winning writer, he speaks with candor and eloquence about the complexities of mental illness.

As he once wrote in one of his articles for The Huffington Post, “Psychosis is like living a nightmare…Depression is like not living at all.”

For a time, Robert was personally caught in the vortex of mental illness. In the late 1990s, he suffered a relapse that was so severe he was given a 20 on the GAF (Global Assessment of Function) score.

Thankfully, Robert has been able to tame his major depression, psychosis and suicidal feelings. But it has taken time. He credits therapy, medication, writing, exercise, and listening to Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Most importantly, he receives oodles of love from his wife, Barbara, whom he met at a UCLA writing class in 1996. In the years since subduing his illness, Robert has written roughly 300 newspaper articles on subjects ranging from sports to politics, arts to mental health policy. He is one of the leading voices on the subject of mental illness and has arguably done more than any male writer in de-stigmatizing psychosis.

A father, grandfather, and loving husband, Robert has helped and continues to help people, especially men, overcome silent fears about mental health issues.

He attributes his own success to love, work, and creativity, as well as a fierce will to survive. As Robert says, “You need to be correctly diagnosed and take the right medicine. It helps to receive good therapy from a nurturing psychiatrist. And, of course, one of the best things you can do is surround yourself with people who care about you.”


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