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Jerilyn Ross’ Journey From Patient to Advocate

Jerilyn Ross

Jerilyn Ross

Jerilyn Ross, president and CEO of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America from 1986 to 2010, dedicated her life to advocating for those struggling with mental illness. Ross was cured of her fear of heights after meeting with a psychotherapist. Convinced others could overcome anxiety with similar treatment, she quit her job teaching in New York, moved to Washington, D.C., and became a psychotherapist. She eventually opened the Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders.

Ross frequently testified in front of Congress about mental illness, authored two books on fear and anxiety, and hosted a weekly radio show from 1987 to 1992 where she became known as “the phobia lady.” She died from cancer on January 7, 2010.

Illustration by Kirby Salvador

This feature originally appeared in the Anxiety issue. For more inspiring women, check out Grandma Moses’s story and our Women in History section.