The High Cost of Mental Health Care for One Family (full film) | FRONTLINE


(cars driving by) (insects chirping) (music playing on tablet) SHAYNA:
No, I want to see you do it. AMBER: That’s how I do it,
trust me. SHAYNA: Why? You so stingy. Amber is my mini-me,
she’s ten years old. Having breakfast
with the girls. AMBER: Ready. SHAYNA: Let’s see what you got. Aw, aw, sugar, honey, iced tea. Kennedy, you want to say hi?
– Hi. SHAYNA: Kennedy is my
three-year-old, and Tearah is the oldest. – Hi, happy holidays.
SHAYNA: Happy holidays, Auntie says she missed you.
– Miss me. SHAYNA: There’s definitely
something missing with Tearah not here. Y’all say bye! – Bye!
– Bye! SHAYNA: Listen, happy Sunday. Y’all, y’all be blessed
out here. ♪ ♪ Tearah has developmental
and intellectual delays. She’s also deaf. Mother.
– Mother, father, brother,
sister, daughter. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: When Tearah was younger,
she would bite other kids, she would bite other adults. You figure she went three years
without any language, so that’s
how she expressed anger. At that point I don’t know if we knew how intellectually
delayed she would be, but we knew that developmentally there was some things
she had missed, and that attributed
to her behaviors. (Tearah screaming) (screaming continues) We did see a continued decline
in her behavior, that she was more erratic. She became more physical. (screaming) And when Tearah is not
at baseline, it poses a risk for danger
for the other children. ♪ ♪ There was one day, my fiancé Robert and the kids
were in the car, and I said, “I’m going to go in
the house and use the bathroom.” I went inside,
and she wanted to go inside, and Robert was saying, you know,
“Your mom will be right out, “she’s going to use
the bathroom really quickly and come out,
we’re not staying long.” Tearah had just kind of lost it
at that point. ♪ ♪ When I came outside,
she had ripped off the headrest, she took his hoodie and tied it and was choking him from behind. I’ve always been able
to help her in any situation. I’ve always been able
to talk her off the ledge, but this was something
I couldn’t fix. The only choice I had was
to contact 911. The hospital got her stable. But once she was home,
Tearah quickly declined. ♪ ♪ She began to fight
on the school bus. She attacked
the school bus monitor. She was back in the hospital
by January 19. ♪ ♪ (alarm blaring distantly) (phone ringing) Being inside the emergency room
was horrific for Tearah. SHAYNA: You’re talking about
a room that has no windows, a TV with protected glass. It’s a cell. STEVEN ROGERS: Being confined
to one room for days on end, all of us would get stressed out
and become very unhappy. SHAYNA: Dr. Rogers, along with
other doctors, were in agreement that Tearah needs
a higher level of care. (typing on keyboard) They just didn’t know
how to help me access that. ROGERS: We just happen
to not have inpatient psychiatric facilities
here, so we actually have to send
all of our kids to outside psychiatric
facilities. But there are limited beds
throughout our state for kids with
aggressive behaviors. So we often see these kids being
stuck here for days to weeks. ♪ ♪ (door clangs shut) ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: Tearah was stuck
in the E.D., and we were stuck at home
trying to figure out, “How do we access services
for Tearah?” But there were no beds. ♪ ♪ Tearah does not have services, then they want me
to take her home, and she is very, very sick. ♪ ♪ They would be like, “Oh well,
if you don’t come get her, we’re going to have to file
a petition for neglect.” Neglect would have been
me doing nothing. Every time I left
that emergency room, I thought,
“Wouldn’t it be just so simple if I could just bring her home?” But I had other kids
to think about. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: Bradley Hospital is
a hospital for children, and they specialize
in psychiatry. (turn signal clicking) Thankfully, Tearah was able
to access the help there. But having to go back and forth
to Rhode Island, it’s about 90 miles one way. And so I’m having
to take time off to be able to take care
of Tearah. Hi.
(Shayna laughing) – Have a nice visit.
– Thank you. (kissing) What’s up, girlfriend? What’s going on? Come on. TEARAH: Rob! Hi, Rob. (Shayna laughing) SHAYNA: I brought you things, I know you needed some things,
right? I know; I remembered some,
but not all, okay? First, should we do hair first?
Okay. I knew she was going to like
this yellow comb. Anything yellow. TEARAH: Aw. SHAYNA: That’s me
on Mother’s Day. I was eating, I stayed in bed. Man. I missed you, that’s why.
– Mm-hmm. SHAYNA: I don’t know
when home yet. I don’t know. I hope soon. But I don’t know, I don’t have
definite answer, okay? But when it happens, and I know for a fact that
you’re going home, I will tell you, okay?
– Ah. – But I don’t know yet. Not yet.
– Okay. You’ve been so patient,
thank you. I know you’re like,
“Come on, I want to go home.” I understand. But soon, I think; I don’t know. Mm-hmm. ♪ Only you. ♪ I miss you.
TEARAH: So cute. SHAYNA: Mm-hmm. (Tearah laughing) Nobody knows
how to play numbers. (hand slapping continues) (engine humming) Residential care runs in the
hundreds of thousand per year. I could not afford that. Insurance certainly
doesn’t cover that. I had began contacting
different resources to try and figure out
what I could do. And I was pointed in the
direction of Susan Shatney, who is a counselor at the Department
of Rehabilitation Services. And she says,
“I don’t fully understand “why you were directed
to my office, “because everything
that you’re looking for “and need for your daughter
does not exist. But I will help you try
to figure out how to get it.” SUE SHATNEY: For Tearah’s
situation specifically, it made sense for residential. Sent it out as a fax, correct. Residential treatment is
more like a dorm. You stay there, you sleep over,
you get your meals there. It’s similar to what mom and dad
would be providing you, but except they have specific
trainings to meet the needs. The difficulty was
who was going to pay for it. ♪ ♪ If you are lucky enough to have
the Cadillac insurance plan, that would provide that–
very rare. Medicaid doesn’t. School systems could pay
for it, but they don’t do that often. So the primary place to go is the Department of Children
and Families. ♪ ♪ Finding services through DCF, through their
Voluntary Services program, it’s not an easy task. SHATNEY: We had the
recommendation from CCMC saying, “Residential.” We had it from Bradley,
“Residential.” And DCF said that Voluntary Services couldn’t
provide residential, because that’s not what-what
Voluntary Services is for. SHAYNA: Voluntary Services
offered equine therapy and yoga as in-home services. SHATNEY: This kid is hurting
herself and others. “Eh, she could ride a horse
for a little bit, and that’ll help.” Sometimes our families
do not know the wide range of services that are available
within communities. There are certainly times
at which we offer our service array that a-a caregiver
may not agree to. It’s not DCF that is moving away
from residential treatment. It is a national movement to recognize the importance
of families. Children thrive in the context
of their family unit and the context of communities. We found that an overreliance of
children in residential settings create a structure
that is unnatural. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: I don’t know
what I’m going to do. All I know is that I can’t stop. ♪ ♪ (birds chirping) (objects rustling) (man chattering) (Kennedy cooing) Amber, all of this can go
in the trash. AMBER: Okay.
(Kennedy speaking indistinctly) SHAYNA: There’s no reason to
save this stuff, hmm. We’re in the middle
of being evicted, because I don’t have
the weekly steady income. And the money
that I do have coming in, because I am on leave,
I’m using that to go back and forth
to Rhode Island. (Kennedy grumbling) It’s going to be all right. Look at me. You sad?
– Yes. – Why? We’re not going to throw it in
the trash. Some stuff has to go
in the trash. Look at me. Some things have to go
in the trash, but not your toys. AMBER: This is mine.
SHAYNA: All right, are you keeping it?
AMBER: Oh, yeah. SHAYNA: All right, I’ll give Kennedy’s stuff
that we’re keeping, and you go from there. Here you go. What kind of sneakers
do you want for school? – I don’t want anything fancy. SHAYNA: Nothing fancy? KENNEDY: Mama!
SHAYNA: Yes, honey? SHAYNA: You sad? (Kennedy babbling) I think one
of the hardest things is to consider what this is
doing to your other children. You going to fold that
for mommy? – Aw, thank you. SHAYNA: Because
I’m not just Tearah’s mom. I have two other children
who are living this with me. You going to be a kangaroo
for Halloween? What’s going to be best
for them? It says “Amber has been a joy to
have in class this year. She has shown improvements
in areas of math and language.” You did amazing! – I want to read it. SHAYNA: How do I care
for all of my kids when one of my kids remains
in crisis mode? ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: There’s so many families that are fighting
back and forth, there’s parents who had to spend
every dollar that they’ve had gaining mental health services
for their child. ♪ ♪ WOMAN: Isn’t it ridiculous?
I mean… – I didn’t even know
that was serviced, you know? WOMAN: Oh, Shayna. SHAYNA: Hi.
– Hey! Oh, it’s so good to see you.
SHAYNA: Aw. Thankfully, I met a family. You know, I met people
who I… for once, I… a lightbulb went off,
and I said, “I’m not by myself.” Because for a long time I took
it personal, because I said, “This… I don’t understand
why this is happening.” WOMAN: You go out of your mind,
practically, trying to find the resources to get
the appropriate medication, to find
the appropriate therapist, while it’s like, “What the hell
is a matter with those parents?” So you’re constantly working
against that while trying to deal
with your kid. WOMAN: I’ve been so concerned that if we didn’t get
my daughter the help she needed early…
– Mm-hmm. – You know, what’s going to
happen when she hits puberty, and we still can’t get her
treatment? Sadly, and I hope I’m wrong…
– No, you know! – I hope I’m wrong for all of
you that are sitting here. My son right now is sitting
in adult prison in Rhode Island. – At age…?
– At age 17. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: (voice breaking):
I wanted Tearah home so bad. Oh!
– Oh, (inaudible) nice! SHAYNA: You like? ♪ ♪ You have all these summer months
just going by, and I’m like, “Is my daughter
ever going to come home?” ♪ ♪ Hi! Last time. (phone ringing)
WOMAN: Bradley Hospital. I know she’s probably ready to
come out of here. – Oh, I’m sure she is. TEARAH: Mom?
SHAYNA: Tearah? TEARAH: Mommy!
SHAYNA: Tearah! Come here, girl.
WOMAN: Aw. SHAYNA: More kisses. (makes kissing sound)
More kisses! (music playing on speakers) TEARAH: Yeah, right guys? (people laughing) SHAYNA: You might get addicted. (laughing) Yes! (chattering, music playing
on speakers) – You’re going to be dancing,
girl. ♪ Clean jeans on… ♪ – Hey, hey, hey, hey.
– ♪ Okay, okay ♪ ♪ Ah, what y’all doing… ♪ SHAYNA: As I’m very excited,
there’s a lot to be done. Also I’m a little anxious about
her reaction to life again. (hip-hop music playing
on speakers) I know what I’m doing. Uh-huh. Hey, hey! (chattering and laughing
continue) (birds chirping) Kennedy, come here! What did you eat?
AMBER: Oh, what did I eat? Um, chicken… chicken and waffles. TEARAH: Waffle? SHAYNA: Show her the sign
for waffles. AMBER: You know this sign? SHAYNA: Show her the sign
for waffles. TEARAH: Waffle.
SHAYNA: That’s waffles? No, that’s pretzels. Waffles.
– Oh, waffle. SHAYNA: Waffle, waffle. I got meds, three got meds… three are taken on Tuesday. SHATNEY: Shayna was able to
access a specific pot of money through the Department
of Developmental Services. We were kind of ambivalent
on it, because it had its pros,
it had its cons. It had Tearah home,
had her out of the hospital, it had her back at school. But at the same time,
it wasn’t the best. There was services
that we still couldn’t access, like a psychiatrist. They also just kind of came in
and said, “Okay, we have this money. Now you, Shayna, need to go out
and hire people.” (chattering) It can be challenging
with in-home services, how, as a parent,
do you manage that? It’s a everyday job, where you’re figuring out
what works, what doesn’t work. She has gone after the
interpreter, um, if I’m at work. We’ve done our best to kind of
figure out our way around that. The way we have the setup is that Tearah has
a sensory area, right? Because she has, um,
depth issues when it comes to sensory. So that
if she’s becoming anxious, she doesn’t have a way… you know, we might drink
a cup of coffee… TEARAH: No!
– Maybe have a cup of… yeah. TEARAH: No, I need more time!
– She’s upset. WOMAN: Do you want to go…
do you want to… you can go… – She’ll come for me,
she’ll come for me. TEARAH: No! I need more time! I need more time!
(screams) She’s anxious,
there’s a lot of people here. It’s fine. Have a seat, have a seat. Park, park, park, park. (Shayna groans) (breathing deeply) Okay, we’re ready. (groans) She’s 17 now, so my job is
to not coddle her. It’s for Tearah to figure out,
“Okay, “why do I feel the way I do? “How do I express that? How do I get past
where I am right now?” ♪ ♪ Tearah is going to be
productive. Tearah’s is going to work. She’s going to be able to be
independent. ♪ ♪ But it’s my responsibility
as her mother to make her feel safe
and let her know that we will get through this
together. Two-one; again?
– You see this? Two years ago today. SHAYNA: Mm-hmm.
– You remember this? – It came up this morning.
– Oh, my Lord. – Mm-hmm.
– Oh, God. Look at that. (Tearah talking on speakers) TEARAH: Amber, what did you do
to your face? How do you feel about seeing
that video? You feel happy? Because you’re home now? Who’s turn is it? ♪ ♪ (dominoes sliding) (laughing) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪

46 thoughts on “The High Cost of Mental Health Care for One Family (full film) | FRONTLINE

  • I hope none of these children are being dosed with atypical antipsychotics. My mom was deaf, and had a cochlear implant, which helped with her frustration. My father got her an oil painting kit for her 50th birthday, because it was something she didn’t need her hearing for. She loved it, eventually taught little local groups.
    I understand there is much more going on with this child. It’s a shame there isn’t a day school to help her, and allow her the comfort of her family at night, or on the weekends.
    I’m Canadian, and really hope every single American will soon have fully covered access to healthcare.♥️

  • God Bless this beautiful family. Ive seen so many families exp similar things trying to help their children. I hope our system come up with better ways to help accomodate and assist with these situations. Amazingly enough we can help anyone else coming here with whatever but can't help our own. Please let's do better America.

  • If she doesn't get residential treatment financed than she should get a 4 people cere giver rotation! It's so awful to know the USA are that far behind civilised countries !

  • Good job. Good documentary. Good awareness.
    Wow. People in such and similar situations deserve special care. In special institutions. Up till when they are better to live in the family home. They deserve happiness. We owe it to them, we the people and government. They don't fully know what they're passing through or missing. Giving them special care in special institutions should be a law, and free of charge. And not up to who can afford it.
    Government should sponsor more research and awareness on mental health. It's lagging behind. It's a huge gap in advancement between physical medical health and mental health. And its a societal problem(mental health issues), a menace, which requires some action and solution. More knowledge and data will eventually help manage these such situations easier, and where and how to seek help, and get more professionals and therapists onboard. And also help eradicate the stigma associated with such anywhere.
    I can't imagine the pain of victims and families who have no money to access professional help.
    She has a loving and caring family💙. Wishing her and her family and all in similar situations the best.

  • First of all, this mother is amazing. She is doing everything she can possibly do. It’s breaking my heart that finding help for her child is so difficult and that she has to figure it all out while trying to do everything else like work, etc. Clearly lightyears from neglecting her child.

    Second, an over reliance on residential facilities is way different than someone who truly needs it. This isn’t just a kid that the parents don’t want to deal with. It’s obvious they care about her and are trying to do the best they can to get her the help she desperately needs. DCF needs to reevaluate where they stand on residential facilities. Suggesting equine therapy for someone who’s been referred to residential services by two hospitals is irresponsible. They would be putting that child in a dangerous position as well as trainers, volunteers, etc. Equine therapy is great- don’t get me wrong- but this is a different situation.

  • I am truly in awe of her strength. I admire her courage, calmness, determination and absolute resolve to keep her family together. May God bless you and your family💞

  • Yeah, it's a serious problem to seek immediate help with these types of kids. From no beds to no services. There's money, but it ends up all going towards paying people in offices like the ministry of Children and family Development (MCFD) for Canada, and the American Dept. of Children & Families (DCF) There's a better system, but its coming in the future. I figure every country has mental health issues, and if they were all united, they could build huge institutions to house the mentally ill, and treat their symptoms, along with a proper diagnosis as well. They'll decide with all their united funding where the facilities will be built, and these agencies, dept., and ministries will all be abolished, saving millions in bachelor degree wages for clerical staff people. Those savings alone will build these new state of the art institutions. Each country's government will pay into this system for their citizens.

    If you have kids showing psychotic episodes, and they're burning out their family, then a specialist can come and take the child to this facility. Right now, its a nightmare for families trying to get access to specialists, and care facilities don't even exist. These kids get sent to the hospital, and then sent back home? They literally terrorize their families with their mood swings, psychotic outbursts, and violent paranoia? There's a reason why there's so much mentally ill people out on our streets today.

  • Shaya is a remarkable woman and I am certain Tearah will be just fine so long as she is able to advocate for her.

  • Hi mis shayna Please find out what tearah likes to do in life and what makes her thrive and try to take it to another level from there. Make her your friend and always teach her the calm way like we saw in the video you’re doing great because She listens to you and she will know what’s right and wrong and ones she learns that hitting someone is wrong she will change. Thank you for sharing your story with us God bless you and your family and I hope you find all the strength in this world for you and your family. And shame on all the insurance companies out here shame on them.

  • You are an incredible mother. The system has let you down over and over, yet you persevere. I wish every kid had someone like you in their lives. Wishing you all the best.

  • This woman knew her daughter was gonna messed up and still decided to go through the extra UNNECESSARY life struggle.
    Now she wants other's to help her with the decision she made. And not just financially. But pretty much in every other aspect of this deaf girls life.
    Exactly what social contributions will this girl give?
    Not a dam one.!
    When do we say enough. Stop it with these people who are just a drain on life and its resources. Bad enough too many are on this planet because of all the advancements humanity has had. Now we satisfy the feelings of a few.

  • This is heartbreaking. I pray Terrah is heald from this mental disability and that the family receives help for her and abundant finances for them all in Jesus name.

  • Currently the main crisis in mental health is the problem of over reliance on psychotropic medications at the expense of labor intensive care such as psychotherapy, residential facilities, or at-home caregivers. Money that would be going to these practioners is instead going to pharma companies, insurance companies, and hospitals. Research that would help to rebalance the importance of direct in-person therapy over medication is suppressed by institutions such as the FDA. US prisons have become the largest mental health care treatment facilities in our country, and the standards set therein permeate the rest of the mental health care system, particularly private for-profit inpatient psychiatric hospitals.

  • Words can’t describe how I feel I feel this mother’s pain. The system is broken and dysfunctional when dealing with cases they don’t understand but they are quick to respond with neglect

  • Challenges like this are not for a faint of heart. And it truly tests you in ways you cannot imagine. As families navigate the system, often one that is broken, or unresponsive to what they truly need, advocacy and activism are born, in the face of what is simply…missing. Blest be, all…

  • oh, sugar honey! Yeah there's your problem. Sugar filled family equals a sick family. Go keto and carnivore and heal your kids! Sugar is a poison !

  • Wish everyone, especially me, could be so loving and cheerful while tackling all this. Hope things stabilize for you.

  • This is shameful and heartbreaking. Why should a family lose everything in the quest of services for their child. At least this child does not want for a loving family. This is just another way families are pounded into poverty.

  • Good mother, but no more children until you can adequately take care of the ones you have. Very difficult without a good support system, where are the fathers of the children? Good luck and in prayer for the family!

  • The strength and love of a mother I tell you is unwavering and bountiful…God bless this family in the name of Jesus.

  • Speaking from experience, the WORSE problem with the mental health system is that their #1 goal is to make people OBEY THEM. They do not care about quality of life for patients. They do not even try to help people be happier. Control via drugs and restraint are their choice of tools.

  • Keep plugging along … beautiful matreark mama … full immulation of what love is for your child .. she is so precious … you can see the love and respect in her eyes for you … no one quite understands regardless unless they've walked in your shoes … so sad the system has let your family down … I'm so sorry … I get you … I'm there with you … hugs and prayers

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