The mother of a mentally ill son who suffered from uncontrollable rages proves to be a powerful advocate for children with mental illness and their families.
When Long worked at Boise State University, she maintained a Facebook blog to which she posted anonymously. In December 2012, when she learned about 20-year-old Adam Lanza's murderous rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, she was fearful for her son's future. Until then, she had kept details of her son's violent episodes secret from friends and co-workers due to the stigma attached to mental illness. After the Sandy Hook episode, she shared her cry for help in a blog post in which she revealed her own circumstances: “In the wake of another horrific national tragedy, it's easy to talk about guns. But it’s time to talk about mental illness.” Her post went viral and was subsequently published by Boise State’s online journal Blue Review with the title, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother.” This led to a highly viewed Huffington Post repost and invitations to appear on national talk shows. In her book, Long cites statistics that estimate the extent of mental illness in children to be “one in five children in the United States,” many of whom have few opportunities for treatment. She writes of the toll this takes on parents and her own yearslong struggle to get effective treatment for her son and how, after exhausting other options, she was forced to turn to the juvenile justice system for help. The author reviews advances in diagnosing childhood mental illness and unraveling the “complex cocktail of genetic predisposition, environmental facts, and family dynamics” that contribute to mental illness in children and adolescents. Only in 2013 was Long’s son diagnosed with bipolar disorder, compounded by problems of sensory integration.
A searing indictment of the lack of affordable care available for the treatment of mentally ill adolescents.