Everyone is subject to interacting with police – whether one has a mental illness or not. The police, of course, are there to keep us safe and enforce the rule of law. However, when you live with mental illness, police have another function: first responder. In this episode, Gabe & Michelle discuss how people living with mental illness feel about the role of police in our care. Listen Now!
“People believe police go through all of this training to help people with mental illness. . . They don’t.”
– Gabe Howard
Highlights From ‘Police’ Episode
[2:50] The story of Pamela Turner, a schizophrenic woman shot by police officers in Texas.
[5:30] The story of Debra Danner, a schizophrenic woman shot by police in the Bronx.
[7:00] Gabe helps train police officers.
[10:40] Is there a better way for police officers to help people with mental illness?
[16:00] It’s an Us vs. Them mentality.
[18:30] Politicians don’t seem to want to help the mentally ill people they blame for gun violence.
[21:00] Should mental health care be free for the greater good?
Computer Generated Transcript for ‘Police Officers and Their Interactions with the Mentally Ill’ Show
Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar errors. Thank you.
Announcer: For reasons that utterly escape everyone involved, you’re listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer.
Gabe: Hello everyone and welcome to this episode of A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. My name is Gabe. I am the bipolar one.
Michelle: And hi, I’m Michelle the schizophrenic one I guess. Got to
Gabe: You’re the only one left. I mean it’s simple, it’s math. I mean how many times have you screamed that it’s just math?
Michelle: I’ve never ever screamed that in my life. But sure, Gabe, whatever you want to do.
Gabe: I happen to know that in another episode involving a police officer you screamed at her, “It’s just math. I’m the only one left.”
Michelle: No no no. I said process of elimination, process of elimination.
Gabe: Isn’t process of elimination just math?
Michelle: I guess so but she was still an idiot and didn’t know that.
Gabe: I don’t mean to bring up traumatic things in your past, although that was a great episode and I really encourage people to look in the show notes and find that episode and check it out, but we want to talk about you know the things that happened to people with mental illness. They’re not always fair. Like, for example, as you told the story you were having an episode. You were having the symptoms of schizophrenia you were experiencing psychosis and they sent the police to you. Could you imagine if you broke your leg and the police showed up?
Michelle: You know that would be absolutely absurd. But yeah the cops did show up. Well one cop showed up and instead of you know helping me she decided to beat the crap out of me until I was brought to the hospital because she couldn’t figure out which one was the guilty one. You know.
Gabe: And it’s good that you were brought to the hospital for you in that situation. It started off poorly but it ended up with you in the hospital. And again we don’t have to tell the whole story again we already did an episode on it. But you didn’t go to jail.
Michelle: No, I did not go to jail.
Gabe: And for many people that’s not the case.
Michelle: Well, I didn’t end up dead which was which is better because a lot of times you call the cops the person ends up dead.
Gabe: You know a lot of times is probably unfair to policing in America but sometimes it does happen and we have stories about this and really the number should be zero. Zero people who are experiencing a disease an illness a disorder who are not well. Zero people should end up in prison or arrested or on trial or dead. I mean that’s fair right?
Michelle: I completely agree with you on that one that’s for sure.
Gabe: You were alluding to something very specific. Tell the audience what you’re talking about because I think some people are going to hear: What do you mean somebody with mental illness ends up dead because of seeking help?
Michelle: Just last week, May 2019. There’s a woman in Texas. Her name is Pamela Turner. A cop approached her it was actually was all caught on social media. Cop approached her. She actually had outstanding warrants. But everybody in the community, they all knew that she had mental health issues and she was actually schizophrenic and a cop approached her, started arguing with her as she was resisting arrest and he began to tase her. And in the scuffle she grabbed his taser and started to tase him. And what he did in to retaliate was take out his gun and he shot five times. And one of them hit her and she ended up dead. Does that seem reasonable to you?
Gabe: None of it seems reasonable. I think that it’s unfair for all sides. I think that it is completely unreasonable of our society to expect police officers to be first responders for mental health crises. I mean think about that for a moment. Could you imagine if your house got robbed and society said OK we’re going to send a doctor with no police or law enforcement training whatsoever? But doctors now investigate crimes because that’s what happens. We expect police officers to deal with this. And when things go wrong we’re like stupid police. But at the same time. Oh my God!
Michelle: I mean
Gabe: Oh my God.
Michelle: What kind of cop gets their taser taken away from them? I mean what kind of cop is tasing a woman anyway? And they said she was just resisting arrest but she was also schizophrenic and obviously mentally ill. They said everybody in the complex. Everyone in the area. They all knew she had schizophrenia. They knew there was mental health issues. But a cop gets his taser taken away. I mean what kind of cop are you? They said that he was an 11 year veteran cop. Like what kind of cop is that? A taser ripped out of her hand? Like come on dude. And then your retaliation? Five shots? Really? Really five shots? They have your taser there’s a much better way to handle that. You don’t need to fire five shots and then one hits her? Like bad aim dude.
Gabe: You said a lot of things there and what I really want you and our listeners to focus on is the frustration in your voice. The reality is that we weren’t there. It’s unreasonable to say things like he fired five shots. What kind of a cop gets his taser taken away? How did he not know that she was mentally ill? Cops aren’t magic. They’re not clairvoyant. You can respect that. What I’m responding to is that I’m mentally ill. What happens if I have a mental health issue and somebody tries to get me help and I end up dead?
Michelle: Yeah. This isn’t the only issue though. Do you know what happened in October 2016 to Deborah Danner? Have you heard that story in New York City in the Bronx?
Gabe: I have not.
Michelle: She was actually also a Fountain House member before I was ever a member there. She had some multiple episodes the cops had been called on her before but nothing ever really big happened. But on one day the cops were called. She was in there with her sister and a cop and first she was wielding scissors. They said don’t wield those scissors, put those away so she put the scissors away and she comes out with a bat. Now the thing is, did she swing the bat or did she not swing the bat? But what had happened since she has the bat in her hand. The cop shot her dead. And what happened after that is when it was brought to trial, the cop was acquitted and not found guilty of it but the city of New York gave the family two million dollars.
Gabe: I always struggle with this one as a citizen. I don’t think that we should charge police officers with mistakes that happen on the job. We don’t charge doctors. If a doctor makes a mistake and kills their patient we don’t try them for murder. I’m not saying that
Michelle: Well, Michael Jackson.
Gabe: What the police did was right or wrong.
Michelle: Michael Jackson’s doctor. Michael Jackson’s doctor went to jail.
Gabe: Well but Michael Jackson’s doctor wasn’t making a split second choice in the moment.
Michelle: True, true.
Gabe: He was continuously doing this against medical advice. Yeah there’s a lot there. I don’t want to set this up as police officers versus people with mental illness because I really see it as damaging to both sides. I have talked to many many police officers over the last 10 years doing Crisis Intervention Team training. That’s where I train police officers on how to better help people who are having psychosis, depression, schizophrenia symptoms, bipolar symptoms, and their families in desperation call the police and the police officers all say the same thing. Why are we here? Why are we being called? Why can’t medical people go? But medical people won’t go.
Michelle: But I don’t understand how holding a bat equals getting shot in the chest.
Gabe: Listen I’m not a police officer, how can I answer that?
Gabe: I don’t understand how graphic files are in layers? It’s one picture but you tell me week after week after week that it’s seven and you say assets. What the fuck is an asset? All I see is a logo. There’s not seven assets
Gabe: Michelle. I don’t understand that.
Michelle: It doesn’t make any sense that the cop would be found not guilty. But then the city of New York would pay her family two million dollars
Gabe: You’re completely wrong about that. Civil trials and criminal trials are two completely separate things that have nothing to do with one another.
Michelle: But he’s not guilty? But they gave her family money? Hmmmmm?
Gabe: Right. Because
Michelle: Then they know they did wrong.
Gabe: Why? That doesn’t mean anything. This is just accord and satisfaction under the law. It might be easier just to pay the settlement and admit no guilt then on and on and on. For example, if you run into my car and you get arrested for manslaughter you’re like look it was just an accident. I couldn’t stop on time, my brakes were bad, so you get acquitted of manslaughter but then you have to pay my family for damaging my car and accidentally killing me, right?
Michelle: But two?
Gabe: You can accidentally.
Michelle: They got two million dollars.
Gabe: I don’t care if they got 80 billion dollars. Mistakes are not illegal nor should they be. Do you want mistakes to be illegal? Because the next time you make a mistake you could go to prison for that mistake.
Michelle: I don’t know, I just I think the city knows something wasn’t right.
Gabe: Knowing that something’s not right and something illegal occurring are very different. Michelle, sincerely, If you and I are walking down the street and I trip you, that’s not right. But if it was an accident you’re going to forgive me. But I would know that I did something wrong. I accidentally got my giant boot in your way and you fell on the ground and I owe you new jeans and I owe you an apology. It doesn’t mean that I assaulted you. It means that my big fat boot got in your way because I walked too close.
Michelle: I don’t think it’s an accident to shoot a woman.
Gabe: That’s literal nonsense. What you are doing, and I’m being sincere. What you are saying is that police officers are targeting mentally ill people on purpose to assassinate us.
Michelle: I’m not saying they’re targeting. I’m saying that the officer thought that she was completely out of her mind and he felt threatened by this bat.
Gabe: Yeah, right.
Michelle: Which was not swung. It was a whole thing that she did not swing.
Gabe: Who cares? So?
Michelle: The bat and his retaliation was to shoot her.
Michelle: Do you think this woman, a 66 year old woman, he believed he was in danger? This man couldn’t take a bat away from a 66 year old woman? He had to shoot her and not just take the bat? He couldn’t fight this 66 year old woman to really take the bat out of her arm? Don’t you think that would’ve been better?
Gabe: You know that’s a good point, you’ve completely convinced me. I agree with you 100 percent.
Michelle: Thank you, Gabe.
Gabe: And you couldn’t peace, and you couldn’t peacefully go with the police officer? You had to attack her?
Michelle: No she attacked me.
Gabe: You couldn’t peacefully go?
Michelle: Well I said very politely to her I’d like to show you in my bedroom. Can we do that?
Gabe: Well he said very politely put the bat down. This is the problem, Michelle. Every time you tell a story you’re blaming law enforcement. It doesn’t matter. You are always right and law enforcement is always wrong. That is not a message that we as people living with mental illness want out in the public. That’s not right. And police officers will not respond to that.
Michelle: Well there has to be a better way to deal with it, Gabe.
Gabe: That I agree with and that’s why I’m trying to say. I think we’re both fucked. I think that both sides are fucked. We’re just trying to hash out this idea that many people living with mental illness believe that law enforcement is out to get them and that means that we don’t have help and many law enforcement police officers don’t know how to help us. You know why they don’t know how to help us?
Gabe: Yeah they don’t have any training they are told to come out and help us with zero training.
Michelle: Hold up. We’ve got to hear from our sponsor.
Announcer: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp.com. Secure, convenient, and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed, accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions, plus chat and text with your therapist, whenever you feel it’s needed. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Go to BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online counselling is right for you. BetterHelp.com/PsychCentral.
Gabe: And we’re back trying to correct a systemic flaw between the way the police officers see mental illness and the way mental illness really is.
Michelle: We’re all in this fucked up boat. But why is nobody trying to resolve it? I remember actually in my disciplinary meeting after that cop thing the cop did come on the phone and we had to call her and hear her version of the story. And she said that our situation was beyond any crisis training she ever had.
Gabe: Now I know you said that kind of in a you know an angry mocking way, but think about that. Remove all of your emotion and consider that for a moment. The person that was sent to help you received no crisis training.
Michelle: She said it was beyond the crisis training she ever learned.
Gabe: Right. Good.
Michelle: I’m just wondering what kind of crisis training she ever learned?
Gabe: Zero. None. People think I’m making this up. People believe that police officers are going through all of this training. They’re not. In the best case scenario, they get a one week course. Could you imagine if your doctor that prescribed your birth control had a one week course on women’s biology? Would you go to a gynecologist that had a one week course?
Michelle: Well I hope I never went to a gynecologist that had a one week course. That would be ridiculous.
Gabe: Ok. But the police officers that are going to be called to help us one week course.
Michelle: That’s ridiculous.
Gabe: It’s completely ridiculous. And that’s why we have to work with police officers because listen nobody’s going to listen to people with mental illness. That’s what’s messed up. We can say look we’re dying, we’re being killed, we’re scared, we’re going to prison and to jail because of the symptoms of mental illness. Why is nobody trying to make serious systemic changes? Why can’t a police officer and a social worker come out? Why can’t a social worker come out? Why can’t police officers receive more than one week of training since they’re the first responders for mental health crises? Why?
Michelle: And there’s so many mentally ill people in jail it’s unreal how much. They’re not even being treated too. I feel like if God forbid something happened and I’m in jail right now they wouldn’t even be giving me my medicine. Can you imagine how I would be acting in jail without my medicine?
Gabe: And not only would you be acting that way because you don’t have your medication, but all of the crimes that you committed in prison or jail while off your medications., you’d be tried as if you were perfectly fine. Even though we know that these are symptoms of schizophrenia you are unmedicated because of the behavior of the state. You would still be held responsible for those medications. Now these are extreme cases. Ladies and gentlemen, please, please, understand that we’re giving the worst case scenarios. Often this works out OK. But you know often isn’t good enough. You know? Let’s say that it’s 50 50. 50 percent of the time people like me and Michelle get the right treatment. What about the other 50 percent? And the thing that really upsets me is that the more money you have the more likely it is you are to be treated fairly. The better neighborhood you live in the more likely these police officers are to have training. The more wealth that you have accumulated the more likely you parents are to drive you to a crisis stabilization unit rather than call the police. And if you don’t have a support system, if you aren’t Gabe and Michelle and you don’t have mothers who love them, you’re just all on your own and somebody who calls the police doesn’t even know you.
Michelle: Yeah. Yeah. I mean if you’re screaming and hollering in your own apartment your neighbors call the cops on you and who knows what’s gonna happen then?
Gabe: Yeah and the police are gonna knock on the neighbors’ door and the neighbor is gonna say I hate that I hate that woman. She screams all the time and that person is gonna be upset. At least when your family calls the police, they say this is my daughter and I love her and I don’t know why she won’t calm down. And police officers are influenced by this. They’re human. They’re there. They’re tired. You get a police officer with no training at the end of a double shift with a woman screaming and swinging a bat? Bad shit’s gonna happen.
Michelle: She didn’t swing.
Gabe: It’s not fair.
Michelle: She didn’t swing the bat. She didn’t even swing the bat.
Gabe: And that just makes it all the worse because we know, after the dust settled, after an investigation occurred, we know how sick that woman was. And you know look we can’t get the police officer on the show, but I can’t imagine that this guy feels good about it.
Michelle: She wasn’t a criminal. She was sick.
Gabe: Exactly. And we are criminalizing mental illness in this country and we have to do something about this. We just have to because many many many many many people feel what Michelle is modeling. You know everybody’s like well that’s crazy nobody thinks that. Everybody thinks that. This is a traumatized group of sick people that feel the police are out to get them. I would venture to guess that half of our listeners feel this way right now and they’re like dear God, Gabe, let Michelle go. This is how we feel. But that’s not going to work because that’s just an us versus them mentality. And if we’re fighting each other, nobody’s solving the problem.
Michelle: Not at all.
Gabe: I don’t even think anybody’s looking into the problem, personally. We know how many mentally ill people are in prisons and jails nobody cares. We know how many mentally ill people are homeless.
Michelle: I’ve seen Lockup. There are so many people in jail with mental illness and when they do something this guy was cutting himself all over his arms. There was blood everywhere all over his cell. He’s done it multiple times and they’re saying that he doesn’t have an issue. He just wants to get out of you know his cell and go into the psych ward. That’s in the hospital and just he wants a different change of scenery. He’s just tired. There’s nothing really wrong with him. And I’m watching this going, this jail is awful. They see what this guy’s doing to himself and they’re saying he wants attention and he wants a different change of scenery. This is awful. This is awful. Why are they even putting this in the show because this makes the jail look terrible? This is bad on the jail not bad on the guy. What they’re showing is awful.
Gabe: And that’s what’s so sad. The fact that it made it to a mainstream show and the fact that nobody realized that it made the jail look bad makes us realize people living with mental illness the people who have this burden that the average citizen out there thinks it’s all our fault.
Gabe: They think that we the sick people have to change the way the police police and the way that medication is handed out and the way that the mental health safety net. It’s all on us. People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychosis, people who are very very sick also have to create sweeping reform across the nation on the way that mental health treatment is done in America. And we’re the ones that are crazy.
Michelle: I know, I know. Everyone talks about how we have to help people with mental illness because they’re just so violent but then they’re not helping anybody.
Gabe: That’s what I love the most. Every time there’s a shooting we always say mental illness, mental illness, mental illness, mental illness, mental illness. OK. Are we going to fund the mental health safety net to make sure that people who are mentally ill get the treatment that they need? No.
Michelle: No, not at all. Nope.
Gabe: Well, so it just goes to show you that the politicians at large don’t actually believe that people with mental illness are responsible for this violence because they’re not putting any resources into stopping this, the scourge of mental illness. They’re just letting it go.
Michelle: You know in all these shootings they’re all done by men. So really we just got to, we have to stop all men. Stopping men from being born because men are doing all the shootings. It’s not mental ill people, it’s men. Come on let’s be real, Gabe. It’s men.
Gabe: That’s of course what’s fascinating to me
Michelle: The problem is men. The problem is men. Let’s fix men.
Gabe: This is what I love, Michelle, people listening to this right now are like wow that woman’s an idiot blaming all men for shooting. But I bet five minutes ago when when we blamed all mentally ill people, the people are like that tracks. You can just blame an entire group for the behavior of this teeny tiny portion. Unless they’re men, then you’re an idiot.
Michelle: Yeah. Yeah.
Gabe: You replace men with any other word, you’re a genius. You replace men with with minorities, Muslims, feminists, just mentally ill people, all of a sudden you’re a genius. That’s speaking truth to power. But if you blame it on white men with guns, you stereotyping bitch, How could you?
Michelle: I’m sorry, Gabe. Haven’t all the shooters been men?
Gabe: I mean yeah.
Michelle: Come on. It’s all men. So really, Gabe, you’re at risk of being a shooter because you’re a man.
Gabe: And of course people hearing that would think that’s nonsense, right?
Michelle: Yes, it sounds crazy.
Gabe: But now say it the other way. Change man to mentally ill. Say the exact same sentence and we’ll see how people hear it then.
Michelle: Now, Gabe, you’re at risk of being a shooter because you’re mentally ill.
Gabe: Yeah and half of society is like, that makes sense. That makes sense. So you went from being a moron for stereotyping me for being male to being a genius for stereotyping me for being mentally ill.
Gabe: And this is what we have to change about our society and it’s going to take more than a bunch of mentally ill people you know frankly dying. It’s gonna take more than a bunch of mentally ill people being locked up in jails and prisons. It’s going to take more than any of this. We need the help of law enforcement, of social workers, of the medical establishment, of our families, and our friends, and we need strangers to understand that people with mental illness we don’t have any power. We’re sick.
Michelle: Therapy needs to be free. Psychiatrists need to be free and psych meds need to be free. It’s ridiculous.
Gabe: Well now you’re sounding like a socialist you crazy whore.
Michelle: It’s true though. If there is such a problem with mental health, make all of those things free.
Gabe: You’re not going to get any arguments from me, but the minute you start talking about how to help people, people start screaming socialism, you know? You know what is else socialistic? Roads, parks, schools, police officers, teachers. But helping sick people? That’s the kind of socialism that we just don’t need.
Michelle: Oh yeah. Yeah. That’s right. That’s right.
Gabe: Michelle, sincerely, you know, we’ve bantered back and forth. We play devil’s advocate and I think we’ve really touched a lot of nerves about how many of our listeners feel because it does. It feels like it’s us against them. So Michelle, if you were in a room full of police officers right now, law enforcement officers, politicians, just whomever, and these are good people, they got into law enforcement because they want to save lives and help people and they’re tired of this happening too. And Michelle Hammer is standing in the front of the room and everybody in that room is like what do we do to help people with mental illness have better outcomes? What do you say?
Michelle: What I would say is if you’re in a situation where someone’s having some sort of psychotic episode, you really need to de-escalate the situation and not try to make it worse with violence of some sort. So if a police officer walks into a situation where there is somebody having some sort of psychotic episode, they really need to de-escalate the situation and not try to bring on any type of violence because that’s really not going to help. You got to really talk it out and calm down.
Gabe: I know that the threat of violence is what police officers are worried about. And let’s just look at all the pop culture. Remember that movie that we talked about several episodes back? Where it was just this was just a person minding their own business and they found out that because they were on psychiatric medications all of your friends were like Are you violent Michelle?
Gabe: And these were your friends. Like these are people that are sitting in your apartment watching your TV on your stolen Netflix account and they wanted to know if you were violent. So I understand why police officers think that violence is around every corner when it comes to people with mental illness. Would you tell them to think of you and your life and how well you are because you’ve got the right help and that it’s possible that they can do that for the person that they’re standing in front of?
Michelle: Oh, absolutely.
Gabe: How do we get people to see mentally ill people as potential rather than risk?
Michelle: I think we need to show police officers. We get to share our own stories of what we’ve gone through with police officers and let them kind of know what was wrong and what was right. What should have been, what should have been done differently and what can happen when a mentally ill person is you know has a support system, gets medicated, has doctors, and things like that. If you’ve run into a situation with someone psychotic that’s where you can take that person and bring them somewhere where they can get help, not jail. Bring them somewhere where they can get help.
Gabe: A big message that we need to leave our first responders with is that they see us at our worst. Police officers never knock on my door and tell me that I can get louder. They always knock on my door and tell me to not be as loud. You know they pull never me over and tell me that I’m an excellent driver. They always pull me over and tell me that I’m speeding and they never come into contact with people living with mental illness. When we’re doing well they only come into contact with us when something bad happened. They see us at our worst. And I wish that we could have so many more conversations so that police officers could see Gabe Howard now and Michelle Hammer now and all us who of are just minding our own business living our lives and you know we’re kind of boring now. I mean, Gabe and Michelle aren’t. Gabe and Michelle are awesome. But you once know you reach recovery you just go on to do normal stuff and then nobody ever sees us again because there’s no reason to see us. But man the minute something goes wrong.
Michelle: You know, Gabe, wellness is so private and crisis is so public, which is just so unfortunate right now.
Gabe: That is and that’s why we have to be vocal and we have to advocate for ourselves and we have to use our voices to show both sides of what it’s like to live with mental illness. Crisis doesn’t need any help. We’ve already established that; the media’s got that covered but wellness. There’s a lot of people who are living well, use your voice.
Michelle: Be the voice.
Gabe: Michelle, are you ready to get out of here?
Michelle: I’m so ready.
Gabe: All right everybody here is what we need you to do. It’s very simple first, wherever you downloaded this podcast, leave us a little review and as many stars as humanly possible. Second go over to PsychCentral.com/BSP. Find a little graphic that says Do you have any questions? Submit your questions, your comments, or anything else. If you want to send us a novel, that’s fine. We’ll try to read it. Send it over to [email protected] And finally, last but not least, share this everywhere. This is a show created by people living with mental illness for people living with mental illness. So please share it on your wall, share it on your private groups, share it everywhere. We will see everybody next Monday. Thank you.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to A Bipolar, a Schizophrenic, and a Podcast. If you love this episode, don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe, rate, and review. To work with Gabe, go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle, go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups, head over to PsychCentral.com. This show’s official web site is PsychCentral.com/BSP. You can e-mail us at [email protected]. Thank you for listening, and share widely.
Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts
GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning writer and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, story of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.
MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health clothing line, with the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.