Supporting Youth and Young Adults Mental Health and Wellness
A message from Laurie Plotnick and Max Reim, parents struggling to help and advocate for a young adult child with mental illnesses.
We must change the way we support and care for youth and young adults with mental illnesses. We must conquer the challenges that we are all facing. We are committed to making this transformation happen.
We are blessed to have two incredible young adult children. They are caring, bright and talented in so many ways. But we have also experienced the devastation of our son and other loved ones in our family develop debilitating mental illnesses. We are living through the heartache of watching the people we love suffer. We are trying to overcome the many challenges that we encounter – identifying the right diagnoses as early as possible, establishing the best treatments and finding the much-needed resources and support for us and our family members with mental illnesses.
Mental illness is a global epidemic causing suffering of millions of families. Teens and young adults have the highest prevalence of mental illness compared to other age groups and suicide is the second leading cause of death for young adults. These years are also the time when many forms of mental illness first appear. Youth and young adults often suffer in silence and for years. They are often misdiagnosed and don’t receive the necessary treatments. They and their families often don’t know where or how to turn for help. Our current system is not designed to provide mental health resources, access, and care specifically geared to youth and young adults.
Our personal journey
Our 24 year-old son is a passionate and already very-accomplished person; a national junior judo champion, founder of an innovative website with thousands of followers, a fashion designer with an international profile and a musician with a recently-launched album. However, our son faces significant mental health challenges that are robbing him of his full potential for health and happiness.
We have repeatedly been at a fork in the road. A misdiagnosis in early school years led to many years of wrong approaches and treatments for our son. His mental illnesses became increasingly more serious and debilitating once he transitioned to young adulthood and we hit one roadblock after another.
Two years ago, our son became even more critically ill and was referred to the MUHC’s Prevention and Early Intervention Program for Psychosis (PEPP), led by Dr. Howard Margolese. Dr. Margolese and his team helped save our son’s life – not only by determining the optimal combination of medications but also for recognizing the specific needs of our son as a young adult and the importance of our input and participation as his parents even though he was in his 20s.
Unfortunately, despite the excellent care, our son continued to increasingly struggle without a clear explanation; another hurdle to overcome. We were yet again intensively searching for more answers and additional care. Upon identifying that our son was also suffering from another relentless mental illness, we discovered that there were only two intensive programs in North America that could treat all of our son’s multiple illnesses simultaneously. All the while our son was deteriorating.
We continue to face hurdles. We remain discouraged by the lack of appropriate information and resources across the country and the lack of research and knowledge related to mental illnesses. We continue to search for the right support for our son and for ourselves.
Even though we remain very hopeful in our son’s quest for health, wellness and happiness, sadly, our family’s experience is not unique. We are still on this difficult uphill battle with our own family but are committed to helping the millions of other youth and young adults and their loved ones affected by mental illness. We aim to revolutionize awareness, access and advancement of mental health and wellness for youth and young adults.
Please join the revolution!
Laurie Plotnick, mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend; Pediatric Emergency Medicine physician for 25 years
Max Reim, husband, father, son, brother, and friend; CEO and Founder of LiveWorkLearnPlay