Booneville Mom Petitions for Mental Health Reform

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A Booneville mom is fighting for mental health reform following the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Nancy Young says her mentally ill son and others across the country need better care.

“He becomes very irrational and tends to not perceive things the way a typical person would, so any little thing could set him off,” said Young.

Young says her son, Tim, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 11-years-old.

“He was actually kicked out of about 14 different day cares before he got to kindergarten,” she said.

Tim is 21-years-old now. “Since he’s become an adult they changed the diagnosis to antisocial personality disorder,” said Young.

When Tim is off his medication, Young says her son can get violent. Last week, the same day of the Newtown shooting, Young says Tim threatened her.

“He said that he was going to kill me out of his life because I hadn't let him know about a schedule change,” she said.

Young started an online petition. She wants a law that requires patients with severe mental illness to take their medicine.

“There needs to be a law in place saying this is what’s gonna happen, we’re gonna tuck you away from society long enough to get you treated and put you on your medication,” said Young.

Young also believes the country needs more long term care facilities.

“Even at the state hospital, a long term stay there is about four weeks, which is still really not long enough to fix a mental illness,” she said. “You know we wouldn't expect cancer to be fixed in a month and mental illness can’t be fixed that soon either.”

Professionals at the Western Arkansas Counseling and Guidance Center reach out to kids in schools from six different counties.

“There is no disorder or diagnosis that would throw up a red flag and say this person is going to harm someone else,” said CEO Jim West. “Much of it is reactionary and caused by like a moment’s distress.”

Psychologists say changes in behavior, sleep, or eating habits could be a sign of mental illness. “Look at ways in which anger, they get easily frustrated. The anger response is excessive. It’s not what’s usually them,” said Dr. Clayton Mitchell, a psychologist. “They’re isolated in their room. They want to argue over minor issues.”

Experts encourage parents to seek help if their child needs it. “You know your child, so focus on your instincts,” said Mitchell.

Young wants help for her son and other people suffering from mental illness.

“We need help,” she said. “The moms need help. We can't do it alone.”

To sign Young’s petition click here.