She also has four children, one of who has struggled with mental illness much of his life.
Liza's essay, “I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother," went viral just around the time of the shootings in Newton, Connecticut. Since then, she's been able to use her own experiences and knowledge to spread awareness about mental illness... what she says is not just a "stigma," but rather discrimination.
You shouldn't have to suffer in shame and silence if you have a child with mental illness. You wouldn't put that shame onto a child with any other health condition, such as cancer or diabetes.
After going through what she calls "diagnosis roulette," Liza's son was finally diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder. But, along the way, she had to fight tooth and nail to get answers. The systems parents have to navigate to get help for their kids is truly baffling, and they face barriers to care at every turn. Liza literally had to become a case manager for her son.
The discrimination goes beyond the child, too. Families are often neglected in the community, because others don't know how to deal with or react to that kind of "disease." And, parents are often blamed for their children's illness. But, says Liza, treating a family with a mental illness the same as you would with a physical illness brings understanding and awareness for everyone. Ignoring the public health crisis of mental illness hurts all of us.
That understanding and awareness also needs to come from a shift in perspective. Too often attitudes surrounding mental illness are reactive- and crisis-based instead of proactive- and wellness-based. So many of these children could grow up to be healthy, happy, successful adults if given the right treatment and opportunity for well-being. Instead, many times they end up in prison.
Tune in as Liza joins Naturally Savvy host, Lisa Davis, to share her own personal journey, as well as why a shift in attitudes around mental illness is so essential.