Mother struggles to get help for her mentally ill adult son

Mother struggles to get help for her mentally ill adult son

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he has a mental illness and if he does hurt somebody and he doesn't hurt himself, then he'll go to jail for the rest of his life, but we are trying to prevent that," said D'Andre's mother Serena Holloway. he has a mental illness and if he does hurt somebody and he doesn't hurt himself, then he'll go to jail for the rest of his life, but we are trying to prevent that," said D'Andre's mother Serena Holloway.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville family has a better idea of where one of their loved one is, but their struggle to get help for him continues.

D'Andre Whitfield was found safe Monday night at a Nashville homeless shelter. The 22-year-old suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

His family had been searching for him since he went missing last Wednesday. But even though he's been found, hurdles remain when it comes to bringing Whitfield home.

Whitfield's mother wants him to come home and to continue taking his medication. But she's finding out that because he's an adult she can't force him get the mental treatment he needs.

The president of the Knoxville Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says there are resources available to assist families.

Since February 5, Serena Holloway has been searching for her son. She's been worried sick about his safety. Even though investigators found Whitfield unharmed in Nashville, she's still concerned.

"I am glad that God kept him and he is safe at the homeless shelter. My spirit is not going to rest until I hear his voice and I see him ‘cause I need to see my son," said Holloway.

Holloway says finding help for Whitfield has been hard because he's an adult. She wants her son to come home and get back on his medication, but can't force him.

Holloway says she just wants her son to get better.

"You know, he has a mental illness and if he does hurt somebody and he doesn't hurt himself, then he'll go to jail for the rest of his life, but we are trying to prevent that," said Holloway.

But president of NAMI Logan Black says there are steps people can take if their loved one is threatening to hurt themselves or others or if the illness has intensified to an uncontrollable level.

"They can call the local police department. They can ask for a CIT trained officer which is crisis intervention training," said Black.

The officers are trained to work with the mentally ill and will do safety checks.

"The police can go and take them to the emergency room. The doctor can then contact one of the local psychiatric hospitals," said Black.

The doctor could require the patient to get treatment. In an escalated situation, people can also call mobile crisis which will drive to the person's location and assess the illness, referring them for in-patient treatment if needed.

Also, after a person is hospitalized they may qualify for case management where a medical profession will make sure the medication is being taken twice daily.

Black says crisis stabilization units are also available which will treat a person for three days and get them back on their medication, but the patient must agree.

Often only if the person is a danger or if the illness is extreme will medication and treatment be required.

NAMI offers support groups and classes for those with a mental illness and their families. NAMI also will help people find resources for treatment and therapy. All the NAMI services are free.

More information on NAMI is available by calling (865) 602-7807 or visiting their website.

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