Mentally Ill Teens

dearshirnk.com

The school shootings in Connecticut have an extra layer of sadness for parents whose children are mentally ill.

In fact, Washington’s and America's main advocacy group for the mentally ill -- the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) -- was organized by a Seattle mother back in the 1970s, after her son, filled with schizophrenic delusions, shot and killed a man. 

Zoe Cooley

Some of the longest relationships are the life-long ties between siblings. But that connection can get complicated when one sibling suffers from a mental illness.

Many support programs don’t focus much on the sibling relationships. Northwest News Network reporter Jessica Robinson recorded the story of two brothers: one in Moscow, Idaho, the other in Anchorage, Alaska. One has schizophrenia. The other grew up in the shadow of it.

Rajah Bose / Northwest News Network

Experts say mental health services for teens are especially inadequate in rural areas. That describes huge swaths of our region.

Michael Clapp / Northwest News Network

The research is clear that the key to keeping a mentally ill teen in treatment and out of trouble is early intervention. Yet, most counties in the Northwest do not offer comprehensive treatment to kids in the initial stages of a mental breakdown.

Every year in the Northwest, thousands of mentally ill teenagers get caught up in the juvenile justice system. In fact, some counties estimate more than half of the kids they place behind bars have a diagnosable mental health condition like schizophrenia, bi-polar or personality disorder. Yet many of these teens do not get the treatment they need. Instead, they cycle in and out of detention.