Typing As Fast As I Can

I had about five minutes to read, answer and then email my responses back to USA Today yesterday during a live, Internet chat about my article:  Don’t Blame Jared Loughner’s Parents.  

It was the first time that I have ever participated in such an exchange with readers and I found myself scrambling to keep up. I was only able to answer about half of the questions that were sent to me. If you think five minutes is a long time to do this, well, then you are quicker than I am.

Here is a copy of the questions and my answers if you missed the discussion. For those of you who participated, thanks! I hope it was helpful.

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Pete’s Live Chat at USA TODAY

USA TODAY is now accepting written questions for Pete . He  will be answering them on line starting at 1:30 p.m. EST on Monday, January 17, 2011. 

You can ask your question by clicking here. 

Pete’s Op Ed piece,  Don’t Blame the Parents of Jared Loughner, has garnered more than 300 comments since it was posted Friday on the Internet. Many of the comments showed a profound ignorance about mental illnesses and the struggles that parents face when an adult child becomes sick.

What sort of questions will be asked Monday?  Will you be asking one?  Join the discussion, share your story, and help educate readers.

Pete on CNN’s “State of the Union with Candy Crowley” (Video)

Update: The clip from the show has been added to the post.

Candy Crowley is examining the State of the Union: Mental Health on Sunday, 1-16-11, and I will be one of her guests. Dr. Fred Frese and I are scheduled to be interviewed between 9:15 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. EST about our experiences in the mental health system. Continue reading to view the clip from the show.

Elephant In The Room

Amid all of the rhetoric, name-calling, and finger-pointing that’s going on, it’s nice that some journalists and advocates are actually speaking out thoughtfully about how difficult it is to get meaningful help for a person with a mental disorder.  Diane Rehm on NPR devoted an hour to the struggles that parents face when they have an adult child with a disorder. I was grateful to be part of that discussion. 
 Kudos to Diane and kudos to these others.

Time to speak out, not hide!

As I write this, we still don’t know if Jared Loughner had been diagnosed with a mental disorder before his weekend shooting rampage. Loughner is the 22 year-old accused of wounding U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D.-Ariz.) and killing a federal judge along with five others in Tuscon.    

The Washington Post and New York Times both reported that officials at Pima Community College told Loughner and his parents in October that he would not be able to continue as a student until he obtained a clearance from a mental health professional  that certified he was not a danger to himself or others.

That revelation certainly implies that Loughner was exhibiting symptoms of a mental disorder, but no one should automatically assume that.

Stories such as Loughner’s are upsetting to those of us who have loved ones with mental illnesses. That’s especially true if your loved one has tangled with the police while psychotic because you know how quickly an incident can turn violent.

If it turns out that Loughner did have a diagnosed mental disorder, I hope the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Mental Health America (MHA), and other leading advocacy groups do not run for cover.

Instead, they should follow the example that  NAMI Ohio set last week when Sheriff’s Deputy Suzanne Hopper, age 40, the mother of two children, was murdered by a man with a severe mental illness.

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Great News for New Year!

Washingtonian magazine has named Trudy Harsh as one of its twelve Washingtonians of the Year in its current January issue.

“For 39 years, The Washingtonian has honored those who bring help and hope to the neediest among us, give at-risk children a fighting chance, enrich our educational and cultural lives, and make Washington a better place for all of us,” the magazine announced in introducing this year’s winners.

I first wrote about Trudy last year on Mother’s Day in this blog  after seeing for myself   how she was helping persons with mental disorders find supportive housing in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Click to continue…