Losing Tim: How Our Health and Education Systems Failed My Son with Schizophrenia
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Paul Gionfriddo’s son Tim is one of the 6 percent”the percentage of all Americans with serious mental illness. He is also one of the half million homeless people with serious mental illnesses in desperate need of help yet often underserved or ignored by our health and social-service systems. In this moving, detailed, yet clear-eyed exposé, Gionfriddo describes how Tim and others like him come to live on the street. From the time Tim first began to show recognizable symptoms of schizophrenia to the inadequate institutional and educational supports he received growing up, his isolation from family and friends, his frequent encounters with the juvenile justice system and, later, the adult criminal justice system and its substandard mental health care, Gionfriddo takes stock of the numerous injustices that kept his son from realizing his potential. Tim entered adulthood with limited formal education, few work skills, and a chronic, debilitating disease that took him from the streets to jails to hospitals and then back to the streets. Losing Tim shows that people with mental illness become homeless as a result not of bad choices but of bad policy. As a former state policy maker, Gionfriddo concludes with recommendations for reforming America’s ailing approach to mental health.