And then I stood up to speak. I was afraid I wouldn't find my voice due to the tears that I couldn't hold in all day whenever I approached anyone personally. But I held strong and the tears held back.
I spoke, folks. I shared our story and told them that our story isn't unique. It's the story of countless families who care and try to get help for their SMI (seriously mentally ill) loved ones but are told the only recourse is to call 911. Then, when they call 911, the police arrive and say, 'We can't do anything unless we actually witness threats of danger to self or others."
The family's left with two options — see their kid escorted off the property to become homeless and vulnerable; or wait it out until the next violent assault and hope they live through it so they can advocate for treatment. And then, when that assault happens, (for many it inevitably does), the police arrive and the parents beg them to take their kid to the ER. Now they can see the threat of danger to self or others, right? Instead, the police say, "No, we're sorry, but now your kid has committed a felony and we have to take him into custody."
So begin the weeks and months of jail time, and waiting for yet another psychiatric evaluation despite the years of documented medical reports and hospitalizations. Finally, the treatment starts along with the parole and the recovery while the court ordered medication lasts. Then the court order is over, the son or daughter goes off medication and it all begins again. Over and over, from ground zero, the same scenario.
I told them all of it, folks, and said, "Families need to be listened to when they know their kids need treatment."