Program could help family get help for mentally ill son

Knoxville pilot program could help family get help for mentally ill son

Posted:
"I think it's a very good option for families to have, especially when they are over 18," said D'Andre's mom, Serena Holloway. "I think it's a very good option for families to have, especially when they are over 18," said D'Andre's mom, Serena Holloway.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville family has faced struggles getting their grown son help for his mental illness, but a pilot program in Knoxville is giving them another treatment option.

D'Andre Whitfield, 22, went missing on February 5. He suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. His family says he stopped taking his medicine then left Knoxville.

They felt there weren't many options available to get D'Andre help because he is an adult.

But a pilot program in Knoxville may give the family the assistance they need in the future.

A couple weeks after D'Andre went missing, investigators found him at a homeless shelter in Nashville.

His mother, Serena Holloway, wanted to make sure he was okay, so after weeks of worry she traveled to Nashville and finally saw her son.

"My heart was just overjoyed, I literally was in tears. I was ecstatic to have my baby in my arms," said Holloway.

Holloway wanted D'Andre to come home, but he decided to stay in Nashville. She says he appeared to be doing well and is staying in touch.

"He's called me. He's contacted me on Facebook. Every day he is contacting me," said Holloway.

But if ever she feels her son is a danger to himself or others, she will utilize a pilot program in Knoxville.

Rep. Ryan Haynes sponsored the legislation last session and it went into effect in July. It's a two-year program allowing a judge to order a mentally ill person to receive assisted outpatient treatment.

"It could apply to somebody who maybe comes in with a minor offense that they committed and the judge says rather than sending this person to jail we need to get this person in an outpatient treatment facility program," said Rep. Haynes.

Families could also file a petition in court requesting a judge to require their loved one to get treatment and stay on their medication.

Brian Stettin, the policy director at the Treatment Advocacy Center, pushed for the bill to pass.

"Often part of the illness is they don't understand that they are sick and they don't understand that they need treatment, so this law allows families to intervene when that situation arises," said Stettin.

"I think it's a very good option for families to have, especially when they are over 18," said Holloway.

This two-year pilot program costs $125,000 and will end in July of 2014. The program is state funded.

If successful, Rep. Haynes says he hopes the law will take effect statewide.

To try and have a judge require a person to continue mental health treatment, the family has to show the patient has struggled with treatment compliance, has a history of not taking their medication and has had severe negative results due to this lack of treatment.

If a person fails to comply with the court order, the person could be transported to a mental health hospital for evaluation. If deemed necessary, the patient will be committed.

Powered by WorldNow

1306 N. Broadway NE Knoxville,
Tennessee 37917

Telephone: 865.637.NEWS(6397)
Fax: 865.525.4091
Email: newsroom@wate.com

Can’t find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Young Broadcasting of Knoxville, Inc. A Media General Company.