Much More To My Son’s Story: He Recovered!

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I am grateful to NBC Nightly News for calling attention to how difficult it is for families to get their loved ones help after they have been diagnosed with a mental illness. But there is more to my family’s story than what could be broadcast in two minutes.

My son was finally able to get the meaningful help that he needed to recover once he eventually got into our mental health system. A key player in his success was a wonderful case manager, Cynthia Anderson, and the jail diversion team/intensive case management team that she oversees in Fairfax County, Virginia. After my son’s  last major break, she fought to keep him in a hospital until he was ready to be discharged.  She got my son into see a psychiatrist and therapist who actually took time to know him as a person. She got my son into a transitional housing program. She got him into a training program so that he could become a certified peer-to-peer specialist. My son is living proof that most persons with mental illnesses can and do recover if and when they are given the wrap around services that they need to succeed.

Most of all Cynthia gave my son hope. Today, he pays his own bills, lives on his own, works at two jobs, and has been stable for nearly six years.  Social workers, such as Cynthia, and dedicated psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists who often work long hours without much pay or support are my heroes.

It is unfortunate that there are not more of them and that our local, state and federal governments give them so little support.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. Mazeltov!

  2. Hi, Pete. You know me. We’ve met several times. I’m Matt; life-long friend of Tony and the Luzi family. I wanted to thank you for your work bringing awareness to mental health. I have had struggles similar to Kevin’s. The severity of my symptoms have been comparatively low, but the difficulty of treatment is very high due to a frustratingly vague and undefined diagnosis.

    In my experience, three major problems with mental health care come to mind. 1) Realizing that one needs help at all isn’t always easy, especially for the person who is ill. The people around them need to be more aware and be prepared to intervene if necessary. 2) Good doctors are extremely hard to find. They’re almost non-existant. It can take years to find the right one, get a solid diagnosis, and develop/execute a solid treatment plan. Quality care needs to be more readily available, as patients continue to suffer in the interim. 3) Treatment is expensive. Insurance (if you have it) usually covers medications, but office visits are rarely covered. I’ve not had much experience with hospitalization, but I can imagine it is a battle. Needless to say, not everyone can afford what it necessary. Again, quality care needs to be more readily available… for anyone who needs it regardless of financial strata. When it comes to mental illness, going untreated simply isn’t an option. Only bad things can come of it.

    I’m glad Kevin is doing well. I am also. It took a very long time, but I have managed to find quality care. My recovery is ongoing. Your work is appreciated. Thank you.

  3. Your book,”Crazy”  is most likely useful in introducing a particular snapshot of the problem and the problems associated with “the problem.” 

    Just wonder how the side effects of Abilify are affecting your son after this amount of time.  Many psychotropics affect (harm) the intellectual and physical capacities of the patient, permanently.  These injuries make it impossible for some to work as your son does.  You make it all sound so easy.  Just pop these pills or inject this drug and all the world is well.  The patient is then recovered – healthy, when with most psychotropics, the patient is not well or healthy.   

    Surely in your research you became aware of these factors, yet you fail to include the dangerous side effects in the vast amount of information you portrayed in your book. Is this really good or balanced reporting? 

    It’s rare to see a psychiatrist interviewed publicly.  Could it be that these professionals, should they be candid, would be quite nervous about discussing what they do, how they do it and/or why? 

  4. Joel Kanter says

     Pete: As a social worker who has worked with SMI population for the past 38 years, I’ve followed your various writings over the years.  Heard you recently on Diane Rehm and was pleased to hear about your son’s recovery with help of case manager.  
       Case management has been a major focus of mine for most of my career and I’m glad to hear that you eventually found a case manager that helped you.
        This work is much more challenging than is often acknowledged and it is important that consumers and families have a case manager who a) is knowledgeable about SMI, b) is knowledgeable about community resources, c) that has skills to engage persons with SMIs in a collaborative helping process, d) has the temperament to weather the emotional challenges of this work and e) hangs in with consumers and families for the long run.  Unfortunately, in too many MH systems, this work is devalued and salaries are so low that positions are filled by poorly trained and inexperienced staff who come and go in less than a year.  This “revolving door” does no one any good.

    Joel Kanter, MSW, LCSW-C
    Silver Spring, Maryland

  5. Hi, Pete. Great news about your son Mike. I had my own issues about 5 years ago. I read an enjoyed your book then. I think I might even have posted about it back then and thanked you. I have too recovered from my illness. I’m very glad and impressed that you’re still writing about this. Just wanted to say thank you.