BrainWise for ParentsPosted On: January 20, 2019
April 20, 2019 is the anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. Twenty years ago, the reaction was a firm “Never again!” Today, the response is an anguished “Another shooting?” The consequences of these increased acts of violence have led to unprecedented efforts to address mental health.
A year ago, Lisa Sabey, an independent filmmaker who is completing a documentary on Sue Klebold, the mother of Columbine murderer Dylan, contacted me and asked about BrainWise. As the parent of a daughter with anorexia, Lisa
understood how parents can be blindsided by a child’s self-destructive behaviors. Her first film, Going Sane, shares the difficult journey and challenges that parents and family face when helping a child with a mental health disorder.
Lisa knows firsthand about the stealth actions a child uses to hide suicidal behaviors, depression and hopelessness. She has also experienced the expense and failure of the mental health system when she sought help for her daughter. The story Sue told in her book, A Mother´s Reckoning, Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy, hit home. Lisa empathized with Sue as she watched her TED Talk and public speeches, and understood her desire to help others.
Sue gave Lisa permission to make a documentary of her story. The goal of the documentary is to be a resource for parents and to encourage them to monitor, connect, and teach their children emotional resilience and mental wellness skills.
The yet-untitled film does not reassure parents. Instead, it tells them that clues pointing to violence and self-destructive behaviors can be non-existent and may be deliberately hidden. And even when symptoms – from the slimmest of signals to full-blown acting out behaviors are recognized, they may be dismissed, marginally treated, or made worse. It recognizes that professionals are not always helpful.
The film’s subject matter is unsettling, but the story serves as a catalyst to help parents understand they are not alone. It emphasizes the importance of parents teaching skills to their child that promote mental wellness, but it also recognizes their inexperience dealing with mental health. The film gives viewers vetted resources they can contact, and it also offers parents the kind of help that Lisa and Sue wish had been available to them