There have been many “first days” through the years, but none like Tuesday.
FROM MY FILES FRIDAY: I first wrote about Trudy Harsh more than three years ago and I’m happy to report that she still is working non-stop to help provide much needed housing in Fairfax County for persons with brain disorders. She is someone who I greatly admire, which is why I am thrilled to again share her story on my blog.
Trudy Harsh: One Person Who Is Making A Difference!
Trudy Harsh’s daughter, Laura, developed a brain tumor when she was eight years old. Doctors at Georgetown Hospital in Washington D.C. were able to remove it, but they warned Trudy that Laura would only live for six more years at best.
Virginians with mental illnesses are losing a powerful voice.
G. Douglas Bevelacqua, director of the Office of the State Inspector General’s division of health and developmental services, submitted his resignation to the governor March 1st, citing differences with his boss, Michael F.A. Morehart. News of his resignation was released today.
As documented several times in this blog, Bevelacqua has been a tireless advocate for mental health reform in Virginia. His resignation is a real kick in the gut to those of us who want to see Virginia’s system improved.
Just because a person has a mental illness, doesn’t mean he can’t be charged with a crime.
That’s what the Fairfax County prosecutor told the detective who arrested my son after he broke into an unoccupied house during a psychotic break to take a bubble bath. My son was charged with two felonies, even though I had tried unsuccessfully to get him into a hospital 48 hours earlier for treatment.
I was reminded of that prosecutor’s words this week when Gail Marguerite Wray sent me a news clipping from the Idaho Mountain Express in Ketchum. I’d met Wray when I spoke in Idaho at a National Alliance on Mental Illness event.
The news story was about Darice Olsen, a 52 year-old Sun Valley woman who was convicted of a felony for driving under the influence. Olsen was sentenced to nearly seven years in prison last April by Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee who insisted that Olsen serve at least 22 months in jail before being considered for parole.
A FRIDAY STORY: Here’s another frustrating and tragic story about a young man who ended up entangled in the criminal justice system because of a mental illness. The Richmond Times-Dispatch has been keeping a spotlight on our state’s fractured mental health care system. That’s important since Richmond is the state capital. Sadly, this story could have been published in nearly any state. When I contacted the family after reading this story to learn if I could share it on my blog, I got this email reply.
One thing we have found when dealing with a family member who has mental illness is that it is one of the loneliest places a family can be. No one seems to understand that this is a real illness with devastating effects. Before his illness manifested itself, our son was on top of the world — he was what every parent wanted for their son. The Captain and Quarterback of his high school football team and one of the bestClick to continue…
Ever since the White House Mental Health summit, I’ve been hearing about how we can prevent mental illnesses. I recently googled the subject and found this from the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
By promoting mental health and preventing mental illness, we can increase the number of people who enjoy good mental health and reduce, to the greatest extent possible, the number of people whose mental health is poor, who experience the symptoms of mental health problems or illnesses, or who die by suicide…
By enhancing factors that are known to help protect people (e.g., having a sense of belonging, enjoying good relationships and good physical health) and diminishing those factors that put them at risk (e.g., childhood trauma, social isolation), we can reduce the onset of some mental health problems and illnesses, reduce symptoms and disability, and support people in their journey of recovery. Structural and social factors that reduce adversity and promote a sense of security, such as safe housing and stable income, are also of great importance.
All of us should be in favor of educational programs that target bullying. We should want every child to grow up feeling a sense of belonging, being free of childhood trauma, not being socially isolated and in secure homes with financially stable families.
But would that prevent mental illnesses? Sorry, but I don’t think so.