Arrest My Kid: He Needs Mental Health Care

| July 9, 2001

Arrest My Kid: He Needs Mental Health Care

When 15-year-old Heather King was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, her mother, Wanda Yanello, was caught in a bind: She had no insurance and couldn't afford the treatment. Meanwhile, Heather stopped coming home and was raped on the streets. Desperate for an answer, Yanello had her arrested the next time Heather took the car out, hoping that the juvenile justice system could provide Heather with the mental health attention she needed.

But as Anne-Marie Cusac reports in The Progressive, the result may have been more damaging than doing nothing at all. Heather has yet to receive any treatment for her mental disorder, even though her mother has repeatedly tried to tell the facility of her daughter's condition.

'No one will listen to Wanda Yanello because, in having her child arrested, she effectively gave up custody of her daughter to the juvenile justice system,' Cusac writes. 'Until Heather is released, Yanello has no say in her treatment.'

Unfortunately, Yanello is not a rare case. Across the country many parents are struggling to provide mental health care to their children, and many have turned in desperation to the juvenile justice system--a system that often doesn't deliver.
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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