Posted in Interviews

Interview with Author Lynn Nanos

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing? ​

I never considered myself a writer until literally just a couple of days immediately preceding the start of creating Breakdown. Rather I considered myself a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. As I struggled to shake off the sense that something was missing within me professionally, the idea of writing a book about my profession came to me suddenly. I completed an online writing course, researched the difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing, purchased writing software, learned how to cite research, and began researching marketing techniques for books. I felt intrinsically rewarded upon completion of every major milestone. Sure there were obstacles to overcome, such as when the interior formatting company sent me a 20-page sample ridden with mistakes they refused to fix. And when my requests for testimonials to publish at the beginning of Breakdown were ignored. And when the first illustrator I hired plagiarized her work before I quickly fired and didn’t pay her. Writing a book takes intense commitment to the finished product. The recognition I’ve received from people has been priceless. 

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I had done mental health advocacy work on a national scale for years before beginning to work on Breakdown and was very inspired by advocates’ tragic stories. Their stories motivated me to become a better social worker. I increasingly realized that there is no opportunity to influence legislators to change the system in the clinical setting. I didn’t feel that my employment was enough to make a difference in the world. Certain clinical cases were at the forefront of my memory because they were especially dramatic and shocking. All of a sudden it dawned on me that the world has to know these stories. Very few people are aware of the population I help and what they struggle with. Breakdown aims to close the gap between clinical and legislative settings. 

Breakdown Nanos

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

The most common reason that approximately half of people with schizophrenia are unable to initiate treatment independently or adhere to treatment is anosognosia. This means they lack awareness of being ill. Anosognosia is a key factor contributing to the need for involuntary treatment. When schizophrenia goes untreated, the consequences can be deadly. I’ve detailed high profile cases based on media reports and my interviews with family members. These cases have involved people getting killed due to untreated mental illness. This statement is bound to make many people uncomfortable for fear of stigmatizing mental illness by suggesting that people with mental illness are violent. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. Yet a small subset of the population with untreated serious mental illness, especially involving psychosis, is more violent than the general population. Truth does not enhance stigma. I make a strong case in favor of involuntary outpatient treatment, otherwise known as Assisted Outpatient Treatment. Just three states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Maryland – do not allow this while all other states and Washington, D.C. allow this life-saving treatment. Not coincidentally, Massachusetts has a very strong antipsychiatry movement. Groups promoting the belief that mental illness doesn’t exist are funded by the government and supported by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. This is wrong.  

4) Your novel was expertly crafted and showcased just how expertly researched and utilized the statistics were for the mental health care profession and mental health stats overall in our nation. Based on your research, what was one statistic that shocked you or would shock the average reader who is unaware of the problems facing the mental health profession or those suffering with mental health struggles?

The extent of malingering on inpatient and emergency settings is astronomical. According to a study, 12% of those admitted for emergency psychiatric care lied about their symptoms to get admitted to inpatient. The reasons for malingering vary. Malingerers drain health care resources and literally take away precious and limited inpatient bed space from those who truly need it. 

5) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership? 

Facebook.

6) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors or anyone working in your field of study out there?

Please read Breakdown to learn from example or learn about emergency psychiatry. 

7) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects/studies on the horizon?

I am still working as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric social worker. I will not write another book, though plan on resuming blogging about my profession in the next few months. 

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About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee. 

Posted in reviews

Breakdown: A Clinician’s Experience in a Broken System of Emergency Psychiatry (serious mental illness, psychosis, reform) by Lynn Nanos Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

An in depth look into the world of mental health care and the ways in which it can be improved take center stage in Author Lynn Nanos novel Breakdown.

The Synopsis 

When hospitals release seriously mentally ill patients too soon without outpatient follow-up, the patients can end up homeless, jailed, harming others, or even dead. When patients are deemed suitable for inpatient care, they can languish for weeks in hospital emergency departments before placements become available. Meanwhile, patients who fake the need for care are smoothly and swiftly moved to inpatient settings.

Breakdown opens a dialogue with anyone interested in improving the system of care for the seriously mentally ill population. This book helps to answer questions such as:

  • Is inpatient care too inaccessible to those who need it most?
  • Do mental health professionals discriminate against mentally ill patients?
  • Are more stringent measures needed to ensure that patients take their medication?
  • Is borderline personality disorder too serious to be classified as just a personality disorder?

Using vignettes based on real interactions with patients, their families, police officers, and other mental health providers, Lynn Nanos shares her passion for helping this population. With more than twenty years of professional experience in the mental health field, her deep interest in helping people who don’t know how to request help is evident to readers.

  • A woman travels from Maine to Massachusetts because she was ordered by her voice, a spirit called “Crystal,” to make the trip.
  • A foul-smelling and oddly dressed man strolls barefooted into the office, unable to stop talking.
  • A man delivers insects to his neighbors’ homes to minimize the effects of poisonous toxins that he says exist in their homes.

Breakdown uses objective and dramatic accounts from the psychiatric trenches to appeal for simple and common-sense solutions to reform our dysfunctional system. This book will benefit anyone interested in seeing a glimpse of the broken mental health system way beyond the classroom. It can guide legislative officials, family members, mental health professionals, and law enforcement officers toward a better understanding of the system.

The Review 

As someone who has advocated for mental health awareness and seeks to improve and see the mental health education and rehabilitation of this world improve, this was a book that spoke volumes to me. The author does a spectacular job of presenting the struggles and heartbreak of the profession. From the book’s opening pages readers are shown the levels of illness and sad state of affairs for both the patients and the doctors attempting to treat them.

What really stuck out to me reading this novel was how the author wrote it all out in a methodical and precise tone of voice, and yet was still written in a way that the average reader, someone who isn’t an expert in the field of mental health, will be able to understand and empathize with. Each chapter elevates the struggle by showing not only individual cases the author worked, but the journey to fight for the rights for all mentally ill patients to seek help or get help they need. The details given by the author and the statistics laid out for the mandates for mental health by state showcase a lack of cohesive treatment plans and emphasizes the need to expand and grow the mental health profession in this nation and the world at large. 

The Verdict

A well written, powerful and heartbreaking non-fiction read that everyone should try for themselves. Breakdown by Lynn Nanos is a detailed and meticulous book that gives readers the inside look into a very under appreciated field, and novels like this are the steps needed to take the United States and the world forward into the mental health profession for both patients and care providers alike. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Lynn Nanos is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in her twelfth year as a full-time mobile emergency psychiatric clinician in Massachusetts. After graduating from Columbia University with a Master of Science in Social Work, she worked as an inpatient psychiatric social worker for approximately seven years. She is an active member of the National Shattering Silence Coalition that advocates for the seriously mentally ill population. She serves on its Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee committee and co-chairs its Blog committee.