As a child psychiatrist and parent, I regard the Newtown horrific mass murder of elementary age children as a final wake up call so that we will never again ask, “How many more children have to die?” Nothing can justify this preventable tragedy to the parents and families of their murdered beloved ones. The time has come to halt the unrelentless chipping away of our mental health care services and quality of care for mental illness, to educate the community about severe mental illness, and to implement strict controls on access to firearms.
Dr. Rochelle Caplan, UCLA Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and past Director the UCLA Pediatric Neuropsychiatry Program
I met Dr. Caplan many years ago when I first began working in healthcare as a parent co-chair of a national collaborative that worked to improve the quality of and access to healthcare for children with special healthcare needs, specifically epilepsy. I can still remember the talk that she gave at a plenary session during one of our large collaborative meetings, when nearly a hundred professionals -- neurologists, pediatricians, hospital administrators, family leaders, social workers and community and government officials -- gathered together to solve some of the most intractable problems that children with epilepsy and their families face. During that talk, Rochelle spelled out some grim statistics about the effects of epilepsy on mothers and siblings of children with seizures, statistics that were at once alarming to me and affirming, albeit in a strange way. I remember having to take a break from the subsequent meetings at the conference so I could go upstairs to my hotel room, where I lay on my back staring at the ceiling, absorbing the fact that yes, what I was doing was incredibly difficult and traumatic. I wasn't not coping but rather doing something very, very difficult. That acknowledgement, coupled with the statistics, was enormously helpful to me in countless ways, including psychic, and I was fortunate to become friends with the doctor as we lived not far from one another in Los Angeles.
I recently saw Rochelle again after a period of a few years, and we had the chance to catch up -- both personally and professionally, when I learned that she had just co-authored a book titled "How Many More Questions: Techniques for Clinical Interviews for Young, Medically Ill Children." I so look forward to reading her book but was very impressed by her impassioned plea following the massacre in Connecticut and spelled out in the linked article.
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