SURVIVING Mental Illness:

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He walked inside, carrying a plastic package with clothes for a 60 year old diagnosed with schizophrenia, along with alcohol and drug dependence. Fresh out of jail, he had a chance to have the theft charge dropped if completed his diversion program. The man took the bag and gave Volpe a hug. He was all smiles. My own clothes. My own shoes.

Personal Stories

Volpe had one last errand. July 1, Magdalena Mihaylova , Robin Erb. Lansing bills aim to help, but the campaign faces skepticism from the medical establishment and one surprising group. July 1, Jim Malewitz. Officials are increasingly finding disease-carrying ticks in new places across the state. July 1, Ted Roelofs.

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Michigan Health Watch. After surviving mental illness, he works to keep others like him out of jail. In Miami, judges weigh treatment, not prison, for the mentally ill Bridge Magazine was in South Florida to study a Miami-Dade County program that places mentally ill criminal suspects in tailored treatment regimens rather than jail. Related Articles:. Lyme disease is spreading across Michigan. But why? July 1, Jim Malewitz Officials are increasingly finding disease-carrying ticks in new places across the state.

Previous article Next article. Add the first comment. Comment Form Add new comment. Your name. He was jailed 66 days and then again 38 days both times in solitary isolation for petty misdemeanors. Each time he lost more than 30 pounds. His long hair and full shaggy beard were clearly indicative of the poor care he received and his inability to care for himself. Yet, we knew that if we bailed him out, there would be no treatment available for him.

When he was finally transferred to a mental hospital, the nurse told us it took ten hospital personnel to get his raging shackled body from the police car to the gurney. The scars on his legs and wrists from the metal shackles were deep and ugly. My daily chronology of his experience in the county jail still brings tears to my eyes. Criminalizing mental illness is common here in Virginia and around the country. My son still has the mental, physical and emotional scars from his devastating and tragic days in jail. So do I. Mike has been in psychiatric hospitals at least 17 times, most times for 3 to 5 days, drugged up and discharged.

Although I took him to the emergency clinic bleeding after he tried to cut out the CIA bugs implanted in his legs, he did not qualify for treatment. He was not killing himself. Although he was evicted from his apartment for pushing his maintenance man, he was not of danger to anyone else. He did not qualify for a bed and I was told to take him to a homeless shelter. Over the years, Mike lived in homeless shelters for days. I honor the Volunteers of America and their untiring compassion. Another shelter included an old gutted-out single trailer where the homeless sleep like sardines on the floor and the stench burns your eyes and breaks your heart.

Incredibly, he was taken from the hospital psychiatric ward in a Medicaid cab to this old warehouse Fairfax calls a shelter. He was 41st on the wait list. He was forced out by a. It was freezing weather and he stayed warm by lugging his belongings from McDonalds to Burger King to , moving every half hour to prevent the police from taking him to jail for loitering.

I brought him home.


Parents learn that providing beds for their mentally ill adults causes even more problems. Mike resisted his medication and because we had no legal way to force him to take it, the arguments and difficulties living together were impossible for us all. Tough Love Stuff. I never could understand where to draw the line between Tough Love and the Disease. We also learned that if we provide a place to live, their names go to the bottom of the housing lists and treatment and community services become non-existent. I knew I could not care for him without professional help. My son spent time in a mental health institute in Fairfax County which continues to lose beds due to a decreases in the budget.

It was a blessing to know exactly where he was. He was safe. He had a bed. He received decent meals. He was not in jail. Still not stable he was discharged with no treatment plan, no community services, and no safe place to live. The only treatment he received was 15 minutes a month with his psychiatrist and 30 minutes a month with a therapist whose time was limited because she had 49 other clients.

Psychiatric hospitals are being closed and our jails are filled with people with severe brain disease. Communities do not receive enough funding for services or housing. Insurance companies refuse to provide insurance. The severe social stigma and discrimination surrounding brain diseases, so pervasive yet not acknowledged in our society, are devastating. And there is little help in sight.

Virginia is a striking and very sad case in point.

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We lost 33 persons due to an untreated brain disease. Although Virginia is a very wealthy state, it is 47th on the list for Health and Human Resources. Funds continue to be cut year after year. In May , Fairfax County suffered the loss of five citizens due to untreated mental illness.

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Two mothers were killed by their mentally ill sons that same month. Parents have seen the results of their sons and daughters thrown on the ground, pushed, maced and tazed by the police. Whenever my son was arrested, his glasses were always left on the ground. He is legally blind. Thankfully, a Jail Diversion Crisis Intervention Training CIT program has been established in Fairfax County where some police are trained in working with persons with mental illness, hopefully taking them to a mental health facility rather than jail.

This will become more effective if appropriate emergency treatment and hospital beds can become more available. I watched a CIT policeman work with my son. He stood back, gave him his own space, and talked in a low compassionate voice. I have watched mentally disabled adults struggle through the revolving doors and fall deeper into the cracks of our broken health system. Indeed, persons with brain disease do have rights. They have the right to good treatment, to proper medication, to safe and affordable living conditions, and in so doing, society will have earned the right to safety.

Finally, I received a call from the director of Pathway Homes, a supportive housing program. He told me they had a room in a home in Reston with three other men. A counselor, medical management, and crisis care would be available to him. Mike would finally have the opportunity to better manage his illness. I felt incredible relief and gratitude. Mike has now lived in this home for over ten years.

Dr. Gupta: If you see someone struggling with mental illness, don't turn away - CNN

He is doing well. His roommates are helpful to each other. They shop, clean the home, cook, take walks and do quite well together. His roommate Jim teaches computer classes to others with mental illness. Mike is sharing his knowledge of nutrition and proper healthcare. He has returned to a hospital only once to regulate his medication and has never again experienced the cold devastation of an isolated jail cell. Housing is still my passion for I know that if we can provide our disabled citizens with a safe supportive place to live, we can help them.

With renewed energy, our non-profit, Wings House, Inc. Within a month, donations from our community completely furnished the home. Four men happily settled in with treatment services eight hours a week. The Brain Foundation now has nine houses. Thirty-six residents with brain disease can enjoy their new homes.

Surviving Mental Illness

We continue to make progress! We are helping wellness and stability happen! This disease has changed all our lives — forever. My expectations for my son were high and filled with hope and dreams. He was smart and beautiful and full of life. And then, in a moment, he was someone else.

His lust for life was shattered, his dreams became raging nightmares and none of us knew what to expect ever again. Incredibly, he graduated from college and I honor his stamina. He is hanging in there. I applaud his courage and his desire to live. I appreciate from the bottom of my heart the patience and caring and love from all those who have helped him accept and manage this devastating disease.

We do have answers to Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, Newtown, and for all those families who daily try to assist their loved ones with chronic brain diseases. We already know that we need more hospital beds rather than jail cells. We need discharge plans and outpatient care with therapists who are not overloaded with paperwork but have the time and ability to help their clients understand and manage their illness.

Many of our homeless have a brain disease and our shelters need mental health therapists and proper medication. Housing is vital and I have found that group living is not only less expensive, but they help each other manage their disease. We have proven that group living works! Brain disease is a disease just as is cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Would we tell a person having a heart attack that there was no bed and put them out in the street to find their own way? Why do we deny treatment when it is the brain that is hurting?

The Brain Foundation is a totally volunteer non-profit based in Centreville. We also have a sister organization in Orlando, Florida which has a goal of 20 by If you are interested in setting up your own home, or in learning what and how we are creating wellness through affordable and safe housing for people with brain disease, or if you would like to donate, please contact us.

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The story of how mental illness didn't claim me

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