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Finding Help for Mentally Ill Family Members

Candy DeWitt of Alameda is among those quoted in Sunday's New York Times Magazine article "A Madman in Our Midst."

When a person is mentally ill, family members often face nearly insurmountable obstacles in getting the help their relatives need — even if the person is delusional and possibly dangerous.

Candy DeWitt of Alameda, whose son Daniel was diagnosed with schizophrenia, is one of several people who talks about those obstacles in an article published Sunday, June 24, in the New York Times Magazine, "A Madman in Our Midst" by Jeneen Interlandi.

For evaluations to have Daniel committed involuntarily to a hospital, DeWitt said, "I'd fill out the form, listing all the dangerous things he'd done... One lade [a mental health screen] would completely ignore it and go just by what she saw in her 15-minute evaluation. And he'd be released. The next week he'd end up back in ..."

Daniel, 23, who grew up in Alameda and attended local schools, was charged earlier this year with the murder of a Berkeley man. Court-appointed doctors have deemed him mentally incompetent to stand trial, and he is presently confined in a state psychiatric facility.

"It's one of the most upsetting parts," Candy DeWitt told Interlandi. "They wouldn't treat him against his will before this happened, even though we begged them to. But now they will. Now that it's too late."

Interlandi's article focuses mainly on her bipolar father, whose illness spiraled out of control as he aged. Laws governing involuntary commitment vary from state to state, she writes, but almost everywhere, it can be difficult, or even impossible, to arrange treatment.

You may read the complete Times article here.

virgo June 25, 2012 at 10:30 PM
thank you for writing this. i think a lot of people are quick to judge the family members without understanding how hard it is to get help for their relatives.

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