The recent posts about news coverage of mental illness (e.g., “Danny Watt’s Story” and “Jani Illustrates Troubles“) has had me thinking about how popular media portray these problems. Over on Psych Central, Margarita Tartakovsky has an article entitled “Media’s Damaging Depictions of Mental Illness” that I recommend to readers of EBD Blog. In addition to discussing myths that are too commonly perpetuated by media such as television and film, she recommends ways to help distinguish between accurate and inaccurate portrayals of mental illness.
Link to Ms. Tartakovsky’s article.
The parents of Daniel Watt, a youth who had multiple problems, told the story of their son’s life and suicide. Tom Jackman of the Washington Post reported the story of Danny and his parents, helping explain some of the problems of addressing the needs of children with multiple diagnoses—co-morbid schizoaffective disorder and substance abuse, in Danny’s case.
Danny Watt once leapt from a moving train. He hurtled through the windshield of a rolling car. Got pummeled by drug dealers. Overdosed. Swallowed rat poison. Tried to hang himself.
In his tumultuous 21 years, Danny Watt danced with death in the most amazing, horrible ways. In the end, two college students spotted him facedown in the cold, murky water of the C&O Canal one afternoon in April 2008. The medical examiner said Danny had drowned.
Continue reading ‘Danny Watt’s story’
Shari Roan’s article entitled “Jani’s at the mercy of her mind” illustrates the difficulties encountered by children with schizophrenia and their families. For those who do not know about schizophrenia in children, this journalistic case study will be a good introduction.
It’s been a rough week. A few days ago, at UCLA’s Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital, 6-year-old Jani toppled a food cart and was confined to her room. She slammed her head against the floor, opening a bloody cut that sent her into hysterics. Later, she kicked the hospital therapy dog.
Jani normally likes animals. But most of her animal friends — cats, rats, dogs and birds — are phantoms that only she can see. January Schofield has schizophrenia. Potent psychiatric drugs — in doses that would stagger most adults — seem to skip off her. She is among the rarest of the rare: a child seemingly born mentally ill.
Here’s a video segment (7:45) from the story; it’s by Don Kelsen and Tim French.
Link to Ms. Roan’s article. For other resources about childhood schizophrenia, see these links:
Under the title “The Father Factor: How Dad’s Age Increases Baby’s Risk of Mental Illness: Could becoming a father after age 40 raise the risks that your children will have a mental illness?” in Scientific American, Paul Raeburn reported on the association of paternal age with childhood schizophrenia and Autism. Using the birth of his own child as a springboard, Mr. Raeburn recounts some of the research on this topic. For example, he covers Dolores Malaspina’s epidemiological work as well as mouse-analog studies by Jay Gingrich. It’s a good introduction to the topic.
Read Mr. Raeburn’s article. Also, for additional resources, please see Leslie Feldman’s “Fathers’ Age as Contributor to Risk for Autism” from right here on EBD Blog.