Families Deal with Changing Mental Health Practices - ABC 8NEWS - WRIC | Richmond, Virginia News & Weather

Families Deal with Changing Mental Health Practices

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RICHMOND (WRIC) - Tragic events in Virginia like the shootings at Virginia Tech prompted lawmakers to try to make changes to the mental health system.

But there are parents out there with mentally ill children who dread one specific day - their child's 18th birthday.

A child with mental illness is still under their parents' supervision, but the very minute they turn 18, parents lose control and that could be dangerous.

The Morris family is trying to deal with these issues as a unit.

Rheanna Morris' family started seeing the changes a few years back. She's had multiple suicide attempts and hospital visits.

Governor Bob McDonnell and his team were thinking about people like the Morris family when they announced a plan to reform Virginia's mental health system.

The list of improvements includes: putting more money into the system and dedicating more hospital beds to mental health patients. But the one thing that's most important to people like the Morris' is the plan to make it easier for families to be involved as their loved ones try to get better.

"As a parent, you don't want your child to end up on the streets," says Rheanna's mother Peggy Sinclair-Morris.

Rheanna just turned 18 this year and her transition into adulthood was scary. Her parents lost some control the very moment their daughter became an adult.

"I'm terrified," Rheanna says. "I am honestly terrified. When I was hospitalized as an adult and they told me my dad couldn't go back with me. It was just a quick good bye. I could remember thinking 'this is it. Welcome to the world of grown-ups.'"

That's something the governor hopes to address with a new task. He hopes the changes will make it easier for families to stay connected to adult children as they're on that road to recovery.

"You always fear for your children," Allen Morris says. "Our worst fear is that she gets into a place where she is in trouble and she is not able to get the help she needs."

The Morris' applaud what the governor is trying to do, but they hope these changes, once implemented, will help their family and others around the state.


Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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