The Stigma Of Raising A Mentally Ill Child

Taken from  NAMI  which can be found   HERE.

Originally posted February 2014.

On Jan. 26, CBS News’ 60 Minutes aired “Nowhere to Go: Mentally Ill Youth in Crisis,”an important story that has helped raise attention to failures in the mental health care system affecting young people and their families.

The full story includes an interview with a young man in an emergency room who had been experiencing suicidal ideation and a frank discussion with a group of mothers.

The centerpiece, however, is an interview with Virginia state senator and former gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds, whose 24-year-old son, Gus attacked him and then died by suicide in Nov. 2013. The tragedy involved a prominent politician and his son, but could just as easily have happened to anyone.

Gus, who lived with bipolar disorder, had been discharged from a hospital emergency room the day before the tragedy because no psychiatric beds were available in the local or nearby communities.  “I really don’t want Gus to be defined by his illness,” declares Senator Deeds in the interview. “I don’t want Gus to be defined by what happened…Gus was a great kid. He was a perfect son. It’s clear the system failed.”

Don’t Miss 60 Minutes Overtime

A supplemental video report, “The Stigma of Raising a Mentally Ill Child,” is posted on the 60 Minutes website (and embedded at the top of this blog), providing additional discussion that includes a focus on the stigma that families often confront when a child lives with mental illness.

It took CBS News almost eight month to compile interviews for the story. “The really difficult part is to get anyone to come onto television to talk about it,” said CBS news anchor Scott Pelley. “Imagine being a parent appearing on 60 Minutes to talk about the serious mental illness of your child? Very hard to do.”

NAMI applauds CBS News for the report and especially those individuals who courageously participated in the interviews.
We are also grateful that  CBS News included on the 60 Minutes website at the end of each story’s text the following editor’s note:  Families in need of help with a mentally ill child can find resources at the National Alliance on Mental Illness: or 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264).

NAMI also offers the following fact sheet and programs for family education:

What Families Can Do
NAMI Family-to-Family
NAMI Basics

Giving Grace To Yourself When Change Is Slow

Taken from  Musings Of A Christian Psychologist  which is found   HERE.

Have you ever struggled to change a habit, attitude, or thought process and wondered, “Why can’t I just change this in my life?” Maybe you wish to think different thoughts or feel differently about a person. Maybe you want some cravings to go away. But it just seems you aren’t improving as you hoped.

Without excusing your flaws or ignoring bad patterns that need change, you may find that giving grace to the challenge of change actually helps you make the change more quickly.

Consider this silly example of change. The seminary where I work poured a new walkway between my small building and our main classroom building. Now, instead of a step up to get in the building, it is all level ground. I have used this walkway for fifteen years as I walk from my car into the building and for the past two as I have walked between the two buildings.

Here’s the problem. I am almost falling down every time because my brain wants to step down when leaving the building and to raise my leg up higher as I enter the building. Either I am tripping as I leave, stepping down only to find that there is no step or I am entering gingerly trying not to look foolish. My body and brain have one expectation and unless I concentrate, I keep doing what I have always been doing, which no longer works.

If this is true about a walkway change, it stands to reason that other more emotional and relational changes would be even harder to manage. Consider some of these

  • the loss of a loved one: coming to terms with someone who is no longer there
  • trusting someone who has shown themself in the past to be trustworthy
  • trigger fears in public spaces after a trauma
  • eating habits after years of over or under control of food
  • having a positive thought after years of negative rumination upon waking
  • avoiding porn when bored
  • choosing a soft response when angry instead of yelling

So, change is hard. How does giving grace to myself help me? 

Imagine for a minute that you make a mistake. Now, consider both of these self responses and how it would impact your capacity to keep working at change:

  1. Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why are you such a failure. You are a waste of space and energy in this world. Lots of people change, why can’t you? You say you are a Christian but I fail to see any maturity. 
  2. [sigh]. Change is so hard. You’ve been thinking and responding to this situation like this for decades. So, it’s not surprising change comes slowly. Good thing God is gracious. Lord, I may not be able to stop the first thought but thank you for helping me catch myself just a bit sooner. Now, deep breath, try again, here is what I want to think/do/say…”

Which of the above two examples of self-talk will help you move forward and which one leaves you stuck in a perception of failure?

Notice the problem that keeps us stuck longer is shame (and our responses to it) more so than our particular changes that may be coming slower than we want. Sometimes pride is the barrier more than the behavior we want to change.

Today, watch your self-talk and instead of beating yourself up with shame talk, just acknowledge the flaw/failure/sin and remind yourself that right now, you can choose a different response. See how that influences your attitude and your energy for change.

I’m In A Tough Place

I haven’t written much at all in the last few years instead I’ve focused on putting up information and posts from other bloggers.

It seems Like I’m dealing with depression much more than I had thought with my focus being on my anxiety.

My anxiety is most severe when going to the dentist because of specific fears I have. The last time I went was two years ago when I had an anxiety attack which led me into a series of bad decisions all rooted in fear that seems to be bigger than God if I’m totally honest.

As a result I need to go to the dentist and get attention because I’m in such pain and I’m too afraid to do something about it at home as I fear I’ll fall apart.

Driving to the dentist is going to be difficult in and of itself. Seeing a new dentist (due to insurance) is going to be a challenge. What I will need to do while there scares me to death because of the scenarios I have played out in my mind.

I know Bible verses that pertain to God’s being with me at all times and not forsaking me. Yet I’ve never been able to believe those promises apply to me so I avoid the monsters.

39 years in as a believer and the terror that has plagued me as far back as I can remember still has it’s grip on me. Would you pray for me?  Allan

Jails Are No Place For The Mentally Ill

Taken from The Washington Post  which is found   HERE.

Twelve years ago, after a long struggle with drug addiction and mental illness, I packed my bags and left my home in New Jersey, bound for Miami and determined to make a fresh start. My brother had convinced me it would be a chance to get clean, to restore my mental health.

But the move unraveled me. My illness and addiction caused me to lose job after job, and I was becoming delusional, hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. I sold my TV and computer because I believed they were sending satellite signals to control me. I thought people were following me, coming to break into my apartment at night. My paranoia kept me up for weeks, wandering the streets in bad neighborhoods, constantly looking over my shoulder. Because I didn’t understand my illness, I never sought the treatment I needed. Looking back, I suppose I shouldn’t have been shocked when I found myself staring into the lens of a booking camera, arrested on petty theft charges after the voices told me to steal.

I know I am responsible for the actions that landed me in jail, but I also know they were the result of a disease that spiraled out of control due to lack of proper treatment. That day was the first and only time I’ve been charged with a crime. I also know that my stint in the Miami-Dade County Jail was anything but rehabilitative. I was locked up on the jail’s ninth floor — infamous as the “Forgotten Floor,” where the jail kept its inmates with serious mental illnesses. The conditions were so bad that I had trouble believing I was still in the United States. The lights were on day and night; it was always 60 degrees. You could smell the mold in the air. I’m still haunted by the screams of the inmates round-the-clock. I remember one guy begging for his life while I prayed the officers wouldn’t take their wrath out on me. Amid the chaos of the jail, my mental health worsened, and the possibility of rejoining the outside world seemed further out of reach.

Today, I’ve been clean from drugs for eight years and from alcohol for three. For the past six years, I’ve been happily married, and my wife and I have a 4-year-old son. We recently bought a home, and I’ve found deeply meaningful work as a peer support specialist working with the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project in Miami-Dade — the jail diversion program that saved my life.

My story is the exception. I’m one of the lucky few offered support and treatment after a brush with the law. I went to jail in 2007, around the time that Miami-Dade County Judge Steven Leifman succeeded in encouraging more comprehensive coordination between law enforcement and behavioral health treatment centers. After 46 days in jail, the resident psychiatrist identified me as having a mental illness and transferred me to a hospital. Case workers there deemed me eligible for the program, which puts people who aren’t considered a public safety threat into community-based treatment and offers mental health and drug addiction services. Without that program, I’m not sure where I would have ended up. I certainly wouldn’t have had the chance to help more than 600 people through jail diversion and treatment after getting my own life on track.

Jails have become warehouses for those struggling with mental illness as well as drug addiction. Serious mental illness now affects about one in six men and almost one-third of women in jails, rates four to six times higher than in the general population. For people with serious mental illnesses, stigma often keeps them from seeking treatment, which is how they wind up in the criminal justice system. There are currently 10 times more mentally ill people in jails and prisons than in state mental health institutions; the vast majority of these people are in jail for non-serious offenses.

The results are tragic. Jamycheal Mitchell, a young man who, his family says, suffered from bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, was found dead in a Virginia jail cell in August. His death came four months after his arrest for stealing a Mountain Dew and a few dollars’ worth of snacks. His family believes he starved after refusing to take meals. Earlier this month, three jail deputies in Santa Clara County, Calif., were arrested under suspicion of murder in the death of Michael James Tyree, another young man with a history of mental illness. Tyree, who died of internal bleeding due to trauma, was being held on misdemeanor drug and theft charges.

Mental illness doesn’t excuse anyone from accountability. But the purpose of our justice system is not just to punish but to rehabilitate. And yet research shows that even a brief stay in jail, as short as a few days, can hamper rehabilitation: It reduces job opportunities, harms physical and mental health and increases the likelihood of committing another crime. Especially for people struggling with mental illness, the system can perpetuate a vicious cycle of arrest, detention, release and re-arrest. Of about 500 people in New York City who were jailed more than 18 times between 2008 and 2013, more than 20 percent had a serious mental illness.

This is a community problem that requires alternatives to incarceration as well as partnerships with health providers and reintegration programs. We can start by directing more resources to the most promising models: greater coordination between police and mental health services, innovations like mobile crisis units, mental health courts and pretrial diversion programs like the one that helped me. These programs offer road maps for others across the country to follow.

As a peer recovery specialist in Miami-Dade County, I work with people who are facing similar challenges. I’m one of the first people whom participants in the program see after getting out of jail. I help them find the resources for clothing, food and other essentials. Because of my personal experience, I can relate to people in the program on a level that a judge, attorney or treatment provider might not be able to. Building this relationship is a vital part of what community-based programs do to ensure that people receive treatment in the community and don’t come back through the criminal justice system. Even after their cases are closed, I often stay in touch and continue to provide counsel.

Miami-Dade County has found that recidivism among people with diagnosed mental health issues arrested on misdemeanor offenses declined dramatically after the program’s launch, dropping from 72 percent to 20 percent. And studies show that diversion programs are cost-effective: Those that steer people struggling with drug addiction toward treatment rather than incarceration save $2 for every dollar spent. But too often, communities don’t invest in these programs, and the result is skyrocketing incarceration.

We’re seeing signs of progress. I was part of the launch of the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which is working with New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia as well as smaller counties like Pennington County in South Dakota and Multnomah County in Oregon to create plans that will reduce incarceration while prioritizing public safety.

People shouldn’t have to go to jail to get the treatment they need to get back on track, and incarceration is not a safe or cost-effective way to deal with our mentally ill population. My story shows both sides of the local criminal justice system: how it can fail, but also how it can work — when it holds people accountable while providing the resources for them to turn their lives around and rejoin society. Everyone who struggles with mental illness and drug addiction should have that same opportunity, and our communities will be stronger and safer if they do. Treating people like me should mean more than putting us inside a cell.

Streams In The Desert: September 26th, 2015

We walk by faith, not by appearance  2 Corinthians 5:7, RV

By faith, not appearance; God never wants us to look at our feelings. Self may want us to; and Satan may want us to. But God wants us to face facts, not feelings; the facts of Christ and of His finished and perfect work for us.

When we face these precious facts, and believe them because God says they are facts, God will take care of our feelings.

God never gives feeling to enable us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to encourage us to trust Him; God never gives feeling to show that we have already and utterly trusted Him. God gives feeling only when He sees that we trust Him apart from all feeling, resting on His own Word, and on His own faithfulness to His promise. Never until then can the feeling (which is from God) possibly come; and God will give the feeling in such a measure and at such a time as His love sees best for the individual case.

We must choose between facing toward our feelings and facing toward God’s facts. Our feelings may be as uncertain as the sea or the shifting sands. God’s facts are as certain as the Rock of Ages, even Christ Himself, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

“When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”


Praise & Worship: September 25th, 2015

1. Oh Happy Day-  Edwin Hawkins Singers

2.  I’ll Take You There-  The Staple Singers

3.  The Battle Is Not Yours-  Yolanda Adams

4.  Prayer List-  Marion Williams

5.  Agnus Dei-  Michael W. Smith

6.  They Throne Oh God-  Kelly Willard

7.  Breathe-  Vineyard Music

8.  Multiplied-  Needtobreathe

9.  There’s Only One Worthy-  Jonas Park

10.  The Book-  Michael Card

11.  Broken Hallelujah-  The Afters


Graduate Student With Mental Illness Wants To Be A Role Model

Taken from  KDSK  which is found   HERE.

The journey for a talented musician took a dramatic turn in 1999 when Theresa San Luis was an undergraduate English and music major at the University of Notre Dame. A sophomore at the time, Theresa’s deteriorating mental health was interfering with school and relationships.

“I was doing very poorly in school,” said San Luis. “I could not focus. Finally, at my wit’s end, I saw a psychiatrist.”

After a 9 day hospital stay, doctors diagnosed San Luis with schizoaffective disorder, a rare and difficult to diagnose combination of symptoms: hallucinations, anxiety, mania, and depression.

“It has components of bipolar and schizophrenia,” said San Luis. “With medication my condition is very manageable. For so many years, up until I was 19, I was left undiagnosed and for so many years I did not have treatment for symptoms that were debilitating at times.”

A support system that includes her church, her university, psychiatric therapy, and medication allows Theresa San Luis to thrive at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

“Now I’m in grad school for my second time, earning my third degree. I am at SIUE, earning a 4.0 grade point average,” said San Luis.

Sitting at the piano, San Luis’ fingers float over the keys as she plays an original composition titled “Leap of Faith”, which seems to sum up her life philosophy.

“You’ve got to have a leap of faith in this world sometimes because you’ve just got to take a risk.”

For a young, educated woman seeking a career, there is risk in speaking so openly about her own mental illness. She knows from experience that employers and society sometimes don’t understand.

“It does make me afraid. I am vulnerable doing an interview like this,” said San Luis. “However, this is an upward battle and it’s worth taking because this message needs to get out about people getting the help they need with proper psychotherapy and psychiatry.”

For San Luis, her leap of faith means not remaining silent. Her message: don’t be afraid to seek help if you’re struggling with mental illness, and don’t be afraid to offer help when you see someone who needs it.

“It’s a journey that not many people have role models for, but I hope to be a role model some day and say ‘look, you can get through this.'”

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