On December 14, 2012, the day Adam Lanza killed his mother, then walked into a school in Newtown, Connecticut and shot 20 first graders and 6 brave educators, I shared my struggles as a parent of a child with mental illness on my anonymous blog, the Anarchist Soccer Mom. The post went viral, and it caused quite a bit of controversy.
In that post, I wrote, “It’s time to talk about mental illness.” Why? One in five children has a serious and debilitating mental disorder. More than 4600 children and young people die each year from completing suicide. And yet across America, parents are struggling to find solutions for their hurting children.
Too often, the only solution is jail: between 50 and 75 percent of children in juvenile detention have mental illness, often untreated, at a tremendous cost to taxpayers and society. Parents feel isolated, alone, and afraid. Pervasive stigma prevents us from even talking about our needs. One mother told me, “I know this sounds terrible, but I wish my daughter had cancer instead of a mental disorder. At least then I could talk about it.”
It’s time to talk.