For Parents of Children with Serious Mental Illness
To provide wholistic support to parents of children of any age with mental health conditions, especially those with serious mental illness (SMI).
Rick and I know what it is like to walk the long journey of mental illness with a child. Our youngest son, Matthew, was diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety as a young child, and later, with chronic suicidality, OCD, and borderline personality disorder. We sought the best help we could for Matthew but grew frustrated with a mental health system that frequently lacked coordination, availability, and accessibility. We often felt isolated and alone on the journey, misunderstood and judged by others, and heartbroken that we could not get the help our dear son needed to survive and thrive.
After 20 years of intense struggle, serious mental illness became a burden Matthew could no longer carry, and he took his life on April 5, 2013. Our grief has been immense; family, friends, and the hope of Heaven have sustained us.
In the aftermath of Matthew’s death, we regularly encourage the faith community through our writing and public speaking to recognize the suffering that mental illness brings to people and to offer kindness, compassion, and practical help for affected families in response. I have become a mental health and suicide prevention advocate for individuals and families. In 2019, Rick and I decided to honor our son by providing wholistic support for other families walking the long road of mental illness through the ministry of BREATHE.
BREATHE events include in-person weekend retreats for moms of children of any age who live with a serious mental illness, free ZOOM calls for parents with mental health professionals, theologians, and parents with lived experience, and a private Facebook page called BREATHE Parents. On BREATHE Parents, hundreds of moms and dads have access to a safe community where they make prayer requests, weep together, rejoice over small victories, share trusted resources and referrals, and remind each other they are not facing their struggles alone.
All BREATHE events provide parents of children with mental illness the opportunity to talk about the reality of the struggle, grieve together, and point each other toward hope!