October 25, 2014

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Mental health success story
Written by Brenda Konradi   
Monday, February 25, 2013 10:05 PM

Many have seen the Facebook post entitled “I am Adam Lanza’s mother” in which a woman who has a son similar to the young  man who was the shooter in Newtown, writes about her experience in trying to raise a child that she is afraid of and the challenges in finding services that can actually help.

Every day parents of children with serious mental health issues struggle to get the services they need that unfortunately private insurance doesn’t pay for, and to find services that actually work.

I would like to tell you a story of a mother and son from Southeastern Indiana who have lived this life, but are now a success story. I met Kathy when her son, RD, was 15 years old. He had a long list of mental health diagnoses and had spent years in and out of psychiatric residential facilities, sometimes for more than a year at a time.

Kathy and her husband noticed that RD was different at a very early age. He was kicked out of every daycare in town for behavior and then was eventually expelled from school on multiple occasions. He had a history of violence, including stabbing his mother with a knife and cracking his dad on the head with a cast iron skillet.

Kathy is a resourceful woman and had sought help in a variety of ways, even taking the advice of a therapist to have RD arrested at 10 years old so he could get services.

But when I met Kathy’s family, they were frustrated and distrustful of the “systems” and agencies that they felt had failed them and even lied to them over the years. They felt like nothing could work and they were all alone in this struggle.

I first met Kathy to invite her to become involved with One Community One Family (OCOF) in 2005. OCOF is a collaborative of child-serving organizations and was formed to improve services in Southeastern Indiana.

OCOF’s goal is to make all child-serving organizations more effective and efficient. Kathy joined the Advisory Board of OCOF and for the first time truly felt like the providers were listening to her.

Through Kathy’s family’s involvement with OCOF, RD began receiving Wraparound services and Kathy formed a parent advocacy group called United Families.

As time went by, RD began to flourish. He used to spend half his life in a psychiatric facility, now he hasn’t been hospitalized in over 4 years. He used to experience episodes where he would become violent, but he has shown no signs of violence in years.

He was told he would never graduate from high school, he did and has been taking classes at Ivy Tech for over two years. He was a kid that many were scared to be around, but now travels to national conferences and speaks about mental health in front of hundreds of people.

When Kathy’s husband passed away after battling cancer, some might have feared that RD would fall apart and revert back to old behaviors, but he did not and they credit the support they feel from the social service community for getting them through.

Kathy and RD are a story of how when organizations work together collaboratively and when a community has truly effective services, that a child with serious mental health issues can succeed.
Recently, Kathy and RD were featured in a video project funded by the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration. In that video, Kathy and RD share their story and how by becoming involved with One Community One Family changed their life. As Kathy said, “it was like a miracle happened for my family.”

If you would like to know more about OCOF please visit their website at www.onecommunityonefamily.org or call 1-877-967-OCOF.

Brenda Konradi is the Systems of Care Project Director with One Community One Family.  She is a member of Dearborn County Citizens Against Substance Abuse and many other local coordinating councils of southeast Indiana. She is spearheading another new initiative involving collaboration of these coordinating councils to facilitate a more concise evaluation method to collect data. Dearborn County CASA invites everyone to be part of the solution by attending a monthly meeting the first Monday of every month at 11:30 am in Classroom A of the Lawrenceburg Community Center.  For more information contact Donna Thacker 812-532-3538 or dthacker52@embarqmail.com and checkout their website www.dearborncountycasa.com.