More And More Kids Are Falling Through The Cracks Of Mental Healthcare
Since 2008, all across the U.S., state governments have cut $4.5 billion from mental health care funding. Recently on the CBSNews program ‘60 Minutes’, Scott Pelley reported on parents who are struggling to raise mentally ill kids in the face of that funding gap and the consequences are heartbreaking and maddening at the same time.
More and more of those consequences are playing out in public venues such as shopping malls and movie theaters, and in the very places we used to think were the safest for our kids – our schools. In the full year that followed the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre which left 20 first graders and 6 teachers dead in December, 2012, there were 28 school shootings in 2013.
Already in this new year, there have been 11 school shootings in 19 days in January alone, not counting lockdowns from bomb threats and other close-calls. How many are the result of the current mental health crisis? And how many of us are actually willing to discuss that crisis?
As the producers of the report write on the program’s 60 Minutes Overtime blog, “it wasn’t an easy story tell”. “The really difficult part is to get anyone to come onto television to talk about it,” says Pelley. “Imagine being a parent appearing on 60 Minutes to talk about the serious mental illness of your child? Very hard to do.”
The producers of the segment, Michael Rey and Oriana Zill de Granados, spent nine months working on the story and spoke to dozens of families and parents across the country, including Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds who was stabbed and slashed repeatedly by his 24 year-old son Gus, who subsequently fatally shot himself – the deadly consequence of a long struggle with mental illness.
“Oriana and Michael searched the country, talked to any number of people who declined to be interviewed,” says Pelley. “They were able to find several people, including Creigh Deeds, who found themselves in a position of wanting to tell the country about this problem so passionately that they were able to overcome, frankly, the embarrassment or the stigma of appearing on national television to talk about mental illness.”
One group of mothers from Connecticut gathered for a group interview with Pelley and told him that the stigma is one of the most difficult parts of raising a child with mental illness. When Pelley asked how raising a child with a physical illness is different from raising a child with a mental illness, the mothers responded in unison: “Casseroles.”
Watch the 60 Minutes Overtime features below to understand what casseroles mean to these moms, as well as the common tragedies and frustrations that have been shared by many families because of a mental health system that is failing them.