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Brandon Irvin meets mental illness with compassion every day.

In order to understand the work Brandon Irvin does, it’s important to first understand how the patient population he treats is different from other environments. It’s no overstatement to say that Brandon’s patients are the “sickest of the sick” in terms of their mental health. After all, in order to qualify for mental health services through the V.A., veterans must be in pretty dire need – posing a danger either to themselves or others. That means that the patients Brandon sees are generally experiencing pretty dramatic degrees of mental illness. As he said when we talked, the pathway to get to him is pretty much always through the emergency room.

For most of us without Brandon’s training, coming into contact with people dealing with this degree of mental illness is frightening. But talking with Brandon you see how treating mental illness is not just about having the skills to help people. It’s about having the insight and the training to be able to see the person behind the illness. To respond to and provide space for the true humanity of the person to come through. And it’s easy to imagine how just that gesture can be so healing to people who see nothing but fear in the eyes of others all day long.

Episode 47 – Brandon Irvin Links & Information

Providing a safety net for those who need it most.

It takes a unique kind of person to do this work. In fact it takes a particular kind of person to get into this work in the first place. Brandon talked about both the practical and philosophical reasons for entering the field of psychology, and what he’s learned about himself along the way.

We knew learning about Brandon’s work would be interesting. But what we may not have anticipated was the degree we came away from this conversation with deep gratitude. The people Brandon serves need his help desperately. He, and the other physicians at the Durham VA and in similar environments across the United States, are doing some of the most meaningful work we can imagine.

Brandon Irvin at Kingfisher – Durham, North Carolina

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