Rye’s Caitlin Verdier believes the only shameful thing about mental illness is the stigma attached to it, and she knows first-hand that too many children and families are suffering in silence. Willing to bare her soul and break taboo, Ms Verdier will share her family’s rollercoaster experience and learnings during a candid and open parent-to parent information session on how to get support and navigate day-to-day with a child or young adult with mental health, emotional or behavioral challenges.
The presentation, which will cover topics including how to find an appropriate educational environment as well as basic neurology, is free and will be held on Wednesday, April 26th, at 7:30 p.m. in the Rye Free Reading Room, Rye, NY. To RSVP, go here.
The statistics around youth and mental health illnesses demonstrate the importance of early diagnosis and intervention. Twenty percent of youth ages 13-18 live with a mental health condition and 50% of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14, with 75% beginning by age 24. “My goal is to encourage the transparent and open discussion of mental health illness so that local support groups can be formed and information can be shared between families. When we don't talk we reinforce the stigma, and the longer a child is left without help, the more it is likely to cast a shadow over their entire life,” says Ms. Verdier.
Over the last 15 years, the Verdiers have been through one revolving door after another in the hope of helping their son, Antoine, whose 10 different diagnoses ranged from early-onset bipolar disorder to non-verbal learning disorder, and who has been placed on 17 different medications. They’ve learned that “a fix” doesn't exist, but what does is education, understanding and learning with an open mind. “Each of these revolving doors is a breeding ground for education and learning, sadness and guilt, desperation and hope,” says Verdier. “My goal is to make any one of these stages just a little shorter or easier for anyone else by passing on my experience and knowledge,” she adds. “I want us as a community to raise awareness and make effective help more accessible, more proactive and more responsive”.