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Speaking out

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I saw a story on a Buffalo newscast tonight about state funding being cut for an agency that provides mental health services for more than a hundred young people. The story was read and gone almost before I had a chance to notice; two or three sentences—that's all the producers thought it deserved. Not surprisingly, the story doesn't appear on the station's website, so I can't be more specific about the agency and its mission. Maybe it's not on the website because the topics of young people, mental health and violence haven't been in the news lately.

Then, about a half-hour later on NBC Nightly News came a report that for every 17 Americans, one has a mental health problem—but only a third of those people receive treatment. And America spends less than 10 percent of its health care dollars on mental health treatment. Here's a human face on what all this means, forwarded to me by a journalism colleague, strwberryfizz:

("I am Adam Lanza's mother")

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
penshark
Dec. 18th, 2012 07:13 am (UTC)
Might this be the story you mean? It was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook tonight; it sounds like the right one.

http://www.wivb.com/dpp/news/erie/at-risk-children-lose-vital-program
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 19th, 2012 03:07 am (UTC)
That's the one; apparently, the news people were following up on the story while I was suggesting they had dropped the ball.
nodressrehersal
Dec. 18th, 2012 02:06 pm (UTC)
Some well-deserved horn tooting here: it was hubby's efforts that got that story covered by channel 7, channel 4, YNN, and this morning on WBFO.

Now Channel 2 is there today, and Business First is sending a reporter, as well as The Buffalo Law Journal. Coverage has actually been quite extensive, so I'm guessing you caught one of the very early broadcasts, where I think the story was short in the early coverage because it happened so fast - MHA contacted hubby earlier in the day, and honestly, almost every media outlet responded with coverage the same day. By 11 p.m. the stories were much longer, with interviews of the exec. director, the head of the CASA program, and two child advocate volunteers.

I posted the "I am Adam Lanza's mother" piece on facebook, the MHA shared it and then so did a whole bunch of other people, which is evidence to me that facebook CAN actually be a useful and informative tool.

I'm begging any and all folks in the WNY area to "like" and to "share" the MHA's facebook page; they're putting out some good stuff there: https://www.facebook.com/MHAofErieCo

Edited at 2012-12-18 02:57 pm (UTC)
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 18th, 2012 03:30 pm (UTC)
You're right: I just caught the 6 p.m. version. It's great the story got more play later, and I am delighted Dick put this on the news agenda in Buffalo. And I'm delighted for the good work you're doing too. I've got to walk the walk, just as you two are doing.

vivitalia
Dec. 18th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)
I'd also urge everyone to consider another angle to the "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother" story. It's a great message that needs to be spread but not at the expense of her (not so anonymous) son's future. Here's a pretty good article on the risk she ran when she went public with her name and her son's photo attached to the story: http://www.disabilityandrepresentation.com/2012/12/16/no-you-are-not-adam-lanzas-mother/

patrick_vecchio
Dec. 19th, 2012 03:06 am (UTC)
Wow. Thanks for forwarding that link, Lizz. Until I read it, I didn't realize I had viewed the boy in question as a disease and not as a person.
nodressrehersal
Dec. 19th, 2012 02:58 pm (UTC)
Interestingly, I had assumed that she had taken some measures to protect her son's identity.

On the other hand, perhaps she knew very well what she was doing, and was taking a very calculated risk in going very public with her story. Think about it. Would we expect her to hide/protect her child's identity if she were talking about any other type of illness? Look at Jim Kelly and the public journey they made to advocate for research for their son's disease...I think it's actually because his illness is a mental health illness that people are shocked that she wrote as she did.

I think her choice of wording, "I am _______ __________'s mother" and naming other mass murders was done exactly for the gut-punch response it got. I did not see it as her labeling her son as a mass murderer.

Maybe her son will actually have a chance at a better future because of the action she took now...I suppose only time will tell, and we can speculate and judge from now 'til the cows come home on whether what she did and the way she did it was right or wrong.
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 19th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
My reaction was similar to yours. Either way, it's a good debate to be having at this time.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 19th, 2012 03:49 am (UTC)
essn2spa
In my disability sensitivity awareness programs I and others who do this type of training stress PEOPLE FIRST language. It is never a disabled person, but a person with a disability. Unfortunately, the term disability means not able. Perhaps this message can convince some to think in terms of DIFFERENTLY ABLE. When the focus is on the disability all one sees is the dysfunction and disregards the human element. All people have the same needs, wants, and desires and that is to be accepted as part of their community, to be included in their community, and to be empowered to live as successfully and independently as possible. I assisted a young man with Muscular Dystrophy onto a college campus. In our first meeting with officials, the first question asked was what the school would have to do for him. His response was two things, a lab table set to the height of his wheel chair and a lab partner to handle the experiments he would be required to do. By the way, he was a Presidential Scholar Award Winner, top graduate of his high school, and studies and tutors fellow students in Physics. The school automatically saw disability first and not the person. One look at the chair and it was an automatic response assuming inability. Many assumptions have been made about Adam Lanza, and most will be incorrect. I found it interesting in tonight’s Olean Times Herald, Congressman Tom Reed makes a statement that says now at a time when emotions are high is not the time to discuss gun control or mental health funding. His quote states, “Instead, the focus should be on the lunatics that are behind these gruesome crimes.” Mr. Reed’s enlightened opinions in the rest of the article are completely absent of any empathy and concern for the rights of the mentally ill. Assemblyman Joseph Giglio is not much better. With decision makers like this what chance of real change is there. Change needs to be enacted but these attitudes are not be the ones that will do that, they will derail it.
patrick_vecchio
Dec. 19th, 2012 01:58 pm (UTC)
Re: essn2spa
I'm all for people first language, but "differently abled" is so bland that it almost eclipses the fact that this person is indeed disabled. The phrase is a euphemism.

I didn't read last night's paper. I'm going to have to go back and look to see what Mr. Reed said. It may require a public response.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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