Mother Tried To Get Daughter Help Before Tragedy: Turning Our Outrage Into Action


(To watch the video click here. A technical glitch has caused problems in playing it on my blog.)

I was struck when I watched this short news clip at the poignant eloquence of a mother who is distraught because she couldn’t get help for her daughter who had been diagnosed with a mental disorder. The result was an outcome that we see and hear too often. Why couldn’t this family get help? (Be sure to listen to the entire story!)

Reader Charlene Turene mentioned her frustration about our system too in a recent email.

Dear Pete,

Can you write something in your blog about burnout for parents, for all of us who love someone with a mental illness who continue to come up to brick walls, ignorance, stigma , senseless arrests, beatings, severe lack of resources, a quick “band aid, good luck and out the emergency room door treatment,”  shame and more. 

The culture, the mass media never pauses to say, wonder or simply ask- why didn’t this person get the help they needed? How much suffering was caused and could of been avoided for the mentally ill, for the family, for any victims, for society? I keep thinking of my family doctor who knows my son who lives with the challenge of schizophrenia, who said to me- “Too bad he is not developmentally delayed. He would have access to all kinds of care and society is compassionate with those with DD/ Autism but not bipolar/ schizophrenia/ depression….”

Sigh. It has been heart breaking and documented all too well in your book and your blogs, in your heart and mine and the millions, yes millions who have loved and love someone with mental illness.

It is so hard to read horrific stories and see little being done to fix our system. How long will it take? Why is it taking so long? No, I won’t give up. If not me, if not you, than who? 

Charlene Turene

It is, indeed, easy to become discouraged, but the final two sentences in Carlene’s email are what I cling too.

 No, I won’t give up.

Everytime I hit a wall, I remember all of the unsung heroes out there  — the parents, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, grandparents, consumers, and dedicated mental health professionals — who are doing what they can do to improve the lives of individuals with mental illnesses. None of us is alone in this campaign. Some have been working for reforms for decades. They have not given up. Progress is being made and our cause and the persons we love are too important to cast aside.

If not me, if not you, then who?

We cannot let these horrific stories defeat us and break our spirits. Instead, we must use them to light a fire inside us, to get angry and demand changes. We must use them to make us stronger. We must use them to make us more determined.

Margaret Meade said.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, It’s the only thing that ever has.

I believe we have a choice. We can simply accept the unacceptable and slink away defeated, or we can become empowered by the challenges before us.

Listening to the mother above in the news crying for help makes me more determined. Reading Carlene’s email inspires me.

Every moment creates an opportunity, I heard one inspirational speaker say.

Every moment creates an opportunity for us to fix our broken system.

If not me, if not you, then who?


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.