Mother Asks Famous TV Reporter’s Mother For Advice; Questions Raised About Our Conflicting Treatment Of Individuals With Mental Illness

(1-31-20) Among the several dozen emails I received this week, there are two I wish to share. One is from Dennie Brooks, who shared a personal story about CBS reporter Mike Wallace after I posted a blog describing how Wallace had helped my son. The second email comes from long-time advocate Dr. Gary Mihelish, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter in Helena, Montana, and a former NAMI board member, who wrote about our nation’s conflicting handling of individuals with serious mental illnesses who are accused of crimes.

Dear Pete,

A fellow I met recently told me that when he was a teenager,  his mother found him just about to put a noose around his neck.  The mother was terribly upset and had no idea what to do.  Mike Wallace had just gone public with his struggles with depression so this mother sent a letter to Mike Wallace’s mother seeking advice.  Mike Wallace’s mother send a note of encouragement back and also told her son. Mike Wallace then wrote a wonderful letter to the mother’s son.

Now an adult, the man told me that he still has that letter. He said Mike’s kindness helped save him.  Mike Wallace was one very special guy.

Best, Dennie.

(Dennie Brooks is the daughter of the late Dr. Dean Brooks, a nationally recognized psychiatrist/advocate featured in the movie, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.)

Dear Pete,

Please tell me how this makes sense?

Ted Kaczynski, Rusty Weston and Lloyd Barrus have all, at some time, been residents of Montana.  They have all been diagnosed with a delusional disorder, possibly schizophrenia.  None of them accepted treatment and have denied treatments for their illnesses and refused medication to control their delusions and hallucinations.

They could not be forced to take medications because they had not been proven to be a “danger to themselves or others.”  Only after they had taken someone else’s lives were they considered dangerous.

After they all killed someone, they were forced to take medications so they could be made competent to stand trial and possibly be executed.  Will someone please explain to me how this makes sense to their own families and the surviving family members of their victims.

Dr. Gary Mihelish, President

NAMI Helena


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.