Diana Waggoner | Executive Director
The Power of Books
Books have always been my personal treasures. There are favorites I have read and re-read,
and then read yet again. They are old friends, bringing me laughter, or comfort, or hope,
or inspiration when needed the most. Fortunately, my husband shares this passion for books
as well and we laugh that if we bring one more book into our home, there is danger of the
floors collapsing! It's a danger we are willing to risk; however, and I'd like to share
three wonderful books that have enchanted or inspired me in recent weeks.
Several years ago we met Julia Cook, the author of exceptional books for children that
address a variety of emotional and behavioral issues children face in today’s world.
Julia’s books speak about bullying, sexual predators, grief and loss, learning to
control one’s anger, divorce, and more. We were so impressed by the opportunity
these books gave children to talk about their personal experiences and feelings,
to help children find the words they need to explain their emotions and to inspire
solutions children could employ in resolving their conflict or need, that we asked
Julia if she would consider writing a book addressing depression in children.
The result of Julia’s lively imagination and her instinct for children is a story
called “Blueloon” about a sad little balloon who is suffering from depression.
With the aid of a wise rock, Blueloon learns specific steps he can take to
‘bounce back’ to being the way he used to be – bright, round, and full, with
a very straight string.
Clinical depression is often thought of as an adult disease; however, it does
affect children, and they become even more hopeless within because they lack
the vocabulary to express what is happening. This book by Julia Cook will help
‘Blueloons’ of all ages. “Blueloon” is a great read for parent support groups,
schools, libraries, and doctors’ offices. And, it’s a book written “for us kids”
so it doesn’t take long to read!
Another book that recently came cross our desk is by Toni Hoy, entitled
Time Foster Child.” This book, published just this year, is a must read for parents
involved in the health care system, members of the juvenile justice systems, and
others employed with child welfare issues. Toni and her husband adopted two brothers
from the foster care system. Because of the severity of the mental health needs of
the younger brother, he later became a part of the foster system once again, this
time in order for him to supposedly receive mental health care.
The family was faced with several decisions, familiar to all parents needing mental
health care for children: If you cannot afford to buy treatment, you must choose
between giving your child away in exchange for treatment, or, if you don’t trade
your child for treatment, but bring him home, his illness could become so violent
that he may hurt someone. If you do trade custody of your child for treatment, you
could be charged for neglect. Or, if you do not trade your child for treatment, you
risk being charged with child endangerment for failure to protect your other kids.
“Second Time Foster Child” asks us to take a second look at agencies charged with
child welfare. EPSDT is an entitlement to children on Medicaid, enacted to discover
the ills that handicap a child and to provide follow-up and treatment. Federal law
requires that Medicaid cover a very comprehensive set of benefits and services for
children; this is an entitlement through the federal government to the states, as
free public school education is an entitlement. However, state governments are often
reluctant to offer this entitlement to families. Many times filing suit against the
state for failure to provide the EPSDT coverage is the parent’s only alternative for
getting their child the care to which they are legally entitled, and to regain
custody that should never have been lost in the first place.
Toni suggests that state governments needlessly spend tax dollars on court cases,
unnecessarily criminalizing parents, where those dollars could be better utilized
for treatment for a child. By providing treatment, overall costs are less, children
heal faster, and families are preserved. “Second Time Foster Child,” is written by
parents who never gave up on their son, despite being prosecuted and persecuted in
exchange for his medically necessary treatment; it’s about the need for mental health
professionals, state governmental departments, legislators, and parents to hear and
respect each other’s voice, and to change a system of ‘welfare’ into a true system
of care that works to give a child the hope, and help, and healing they deserve.
A book we re-read just recently is Rosalynn Carter’s book, “Within Our Reach:
Ending the Mental Health Crisis,” published in 2010. This book amplifies what
so many of our Not Alone radio broadcast guests have been telling us, that
recovery from mental illness is possible and the keys to recovery are hope,
strength, and respect.
Mrs. Carter, who has been a vocal and positive leader for mental health care
reform, reminds readers that recovery is strength based, which means that when
they are in recovery, individuals focus on building their own talents, resilience,
and coping skills. “One’s inherent worth as a human being is valued and validated.
Working out of this more positive frame of mind, people recovering from mental
illness can take on new roles in life.” “Within Our Reach” asks meaningful questions;
for example, “How can we leave people who are suffering from mental illness stranded
without help or hope when both are within our reach? What does it say about us as a
people and a nation when we don’t take care of the most vulnerable among us? Why is
it that we continue to discriminate against them, denying them good insurance coverage
and access to care? Why are so many afraid to seek treatment, or when they do, unwilling
to reveal this fact? Why don’t we ensure that others have the services they need when we
would act much differently if someone were facing cancer, or diabetes, or stroke?”
Rosalynn Carter is dedicated to helping people understand and implement programs for
recovery in the field of mental health care. “Within Our Reach” praised the work of
many groups and individuals; we were proud to see that several of these individuals
have been guests on our Not Alone broadcasts, including Pat Deegan, Larry Fricks,
Joel Slack, and people involved in the Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law
Because authors like Julia Cook, Toni Hoy, and Rosalynn Carter have a gift for words,
and are willing to use their gifts to help those facing mental health struggles, we can
and we will continue to move forward toward complete recovery for individuals and
families seeking mental wellness.