Mental illness in children: How to deal - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Mental illness in children: How to deal

By Jena Johnson - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – In the wake of the Tucson tragedy, a new support group here in East Texas is trying to spread the word that help is here for parents of troubled children.

The group is called Family for Family, and their mission is to educate and guide parents through the process of getting their children the help they need.

Life for Mildred Witte, a Family for Family teacher, was drastically different a decade ago. Her now 35-year-old son, Nathan had moved to Los Angeles to begin a career in making movies.

"Life was great. He was happy and he brought a girl home for Christmas, but things suddenly by that spring began to fall apart," says Witte.

She says he thought the world was against him. Because of paranoia, he quit his job at a film production company.

"We just thought there was some cult that was affecting him. In other words when parents begin to discover that a child is getting sick or has a mental illness, the last thing they want to believe is that it's a mental illness," Witte explained.

Months later, Nathan was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Getting that diagnosis, she says, was a fight.

"We had to have a court order for him to be made to take medication and he had to be made to talk to him."

Witte says, like most parents in her situation, she was in denial of her son's mental condition.

"We will always regret that we didn't know what to do or do something or manage to get something started sooner."

Now Witte uses her experience to teach others in a course in Tyler, a support group for families of the mentally ill.

"Because we are parents that dealt with this and we can tell you how because missteps waste time. Some children starting at 14 will start to show signs of a mental illness and you're in a better position because you can discuss with the doctor and insist," says Witte.

Insisting treatment is much better than ignoring a mental problem.

Family to Family is a free support group. It's a 12-week long class that will meet weekly again in March.

Copyright 2011 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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