The High Cost of Mental Health Care for One Family (full film) | FRONTLINE

The High Cost of Mental Health Care for One Family (full film) | FRONTLINE


(cars driving by) (insects chirping) (music playing on tablet) SHAYNA:
No, I want to see you do it. AMBER: That’s how I do it,
trust me. SHAYNA: Why? You so stingy. Amber is my mini-me,
she’s ten years old. Having breakfast
with the girls. AMBER: Ready. SHAYNA: Let’s see what you got. Aw, aw, sugar, honey, iced tea. Kennedy, you want to say hi?
– Hi. SHAYNA: Kennedy is my
three-year-old, and Tearah is the oldest. – Hi, happy holidays.
SHAYNA: Happy holidays, Auntie says she missed you.
– Miss me. SHAYNA: There’s definitely
something missing with Tearah not here. Y’all say bye! – Bye!
– Bye! SHAYNA: Listen, happy Sunday. Y’all, y’all be blessed
out here. ♪ ♪ Tearah has developmental
and intellectual delays. She’s also deaf. Mother.
– Mother, father, brother,
sister, daughter. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: When Tearah was younger,
she would bite other kids, she would bite other adults. You figure she went three years
without any language, so that’s
how she expressed anger. At that point I don’t know if we knew how intellectually
delayed she would be, but we knew that developmentally there was some things
she had missed, and that attributed
to her behaviors. (Tearah screaming) (screaming continues) We did see a continued decline
in her behavior, that she was more erratic. She became more physical. (screaming) And when Tearah is not
at baseline, it poses a risk for danger
for the other children. ♪ ♪ There was one day, my fiancé Robert and the kids
were in the car, and I said, “I’m going to go in
the house and use the bathroom.” I went inside,
and she wanted to go inside, and Robert was saying, you know,
“Your mom will be right out, “she’s going to use
the bathroom really quickly and come out,
we’re not staying long.” Tearah had just kind of lost it
at that point. ♪ ♪ When I came outside,
she had ripped off the headrest, she took his hoodie and tied it and was choking him from behind. I’ve always been able
to help her in any situation. I’ve always been able
to talk her off the ledge, but this was something
I couldn’t fix. The only choice I had was
to contact 911. The hospital got her stable. But once she was home,
Tearah quickly declined. ♪ ♪ She began to fight
on the school bus. She attacked
the school bus monitor. She was back in the hospital
by January 19. ♪ ♪ (alarm blaring distantly) (phone ringing) Being inside the emergency room
was horrific for Tearah. SHAYNA: You’re talking about
a room that has no windows, a TV with protected glass. It’s a cell. STEVEN ROGERS: Being confined
to one room for days on end, all of us would get stressed out
and become very unhappy. SHAYNA: Dr. Rogers, along with
other doctors, were in agreement that Tearah needs
a higher level of care. (typing on keyboard) They just didn’t know
how to help me access that. ROGERS: We just happen
to not have inpatient psychiatric facilities
here, so we actually have to send
all of our kids to outside psychiatric
facilities. But there are limited beds
throughout our state for kids with
aggressive behaviors. So we often see these kids being
stuck here for days to weeks. ♪ ♪ (door clangs shut) ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: Tearah was stuck
in the E.D., and we were stuck at home
trying to figure out, “How do we access services
for Tearah?” But there were no beds. ♪ ♪ Tearah does not have services, then they want me
to take her home, and she is very, very sick. ♪ ♪ They would be like, “Oh well,
if you don’t come get her, we’re going to have to file
a petition for neglect.” Neglect would have been
me doing nothing. Every time I left
that emergency room, I thought,
“Wouldn’t it be just so simple if I could just bring her home?” But I had other kids
to think about. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: Bradley Hospital is
a hospital for children, and they specialize
in psychiatry. (turn signal clicking) Thankfully, Tearah was able
to access the help there. But having to go back and forth
to Rhode Island, it’s about 90 miles one way. And so I’m having
to take time off to be able to take care
of Tearah. Hi.
(Shayna laughing) – Have a nice visit.
– Thank you. (kissing) What’s up, girlfriend? What’s going on? Come on. TEARAH: Rob! Hi, Rob. (Shayna laughing) SHAYNA: I brought you things, I know you needed some things,
right? I know; I remembered some,
but not all, okay? First, should we do hair first?
Okay. I knew she was going to like
this yellow comb. Anything yellow. TEARAH: Aw. SHAYNA: That’s me
on Mother’s Day. I was eating, I stayed in bed. Man. I missed you, that’s why.
– Mm-hmm. SHAYNA: I don’t know
when home yet. I don’t know. I hope soon. But I don’t know, I don’t have
definite answer, okay? But when it happens, and I know for a fact that
you’re going home, I will tell you, okay?
– Ah. – But I don’t know yet. Not yet.
– Okay. You’ve been so patient,
thank you. I know you’re like,
“Come on, I want to go home.” I understand. But soon, I think; I don’t know. Mm-hmm. ♪ Only you. ♪ I miss you.
TEARAH: So cute. SHAYNA: Mm-hmm. (Tearah laughing) Nobody knows
how to play numbers. (hand slapping continues) (engine humming) Residential care runs in the
hundreds of thousand per year. I could not afford that. Insurance certainly
doesn’t cover that. I had began contacting
different resources to try and figure out
what I could do. And I was pointed in the
direction of Susan Shatney, who is a counselor at the Department
of Rehabilitation Services. And she says,
“I don’t fully understand “why you were directed
to my office, “because everything
that you’re looking for “and need for your daughter
does not exist. But I will help you try
to figure out how to get it.” SUE SHATNEY: For Tearah’s
situation specifically, it made sense for residential. Sent it out as a fax, correct. Residential treatment is
more like a dorm. You stay there, you sleep over,
you get your meals there. It’s similar to what mom and dad
would be providing you, but except they have specific
trainings to meet the needs. The difficulty was
who was going to pay for it. ♪ ♪ If you are lucky enough to have
the Cadillac insurance plan, that would provide that–
very rare. Medicaid doesn’t. School systems could pay
for it, but they don’t do that often. So the primary place to go is the Department of Children
and Families. ♪ ♪ Finding services through DCF, through their
Voluntary Services program, it’s not an easy task. SHATNEY: We had the
recommendation from CCMC saying, “Residential.” We had it from Bradley,
“Residential.” And DCF said that Voluntary Services couldn’t
provide residential, because that’s not what-what
Voluntary Services is for. SHAYNA: Voluntary Services
offered equine therapy and yoga as in-home services. SHATNEY: This kid is hurting
herself and others. “Eh, she could ride a horse
for a little bit, and that’ll help.” Sometimes our families
do not know the wide range of services that are available
within communities. There are certainly times
at which we offer our service array that a-a caregiver
may not agree to. It’s not DCF that is moving away
from residential treatment. It is a national movement to recognize the importance
of families. Children thrive in the context
of their family unit and the context of communities. We found that an overreliance of
children in residential settings create a structure
that is unnatural. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: I don’t know
what I’m going to do. All I know is that I can’t stop. ♪ ♪ (birds chirping) (objects rustling) (man chattering) (Kennedy cooing) Amber, all of this can go
in the trash. AMBER: Okay.
(Kennedy speaking indistinctly) SHAYNA: There’s no reason to
save this stuff, hmm. We’re in the middle
of being evicted, because I don’t have
the weekly steady income. And the money
that I do have coming in, because I am on leave,
I’m using that to go back and forth
to Rhode Island. (Kennedy grumbling) It’s going to be all right. Look at me. You sad?
– Yes. – Why? We’re not going to throw it in
the trash. Some stuff has to go
in the trash. Look at me. Some things have to go
in the trash, but not your toys. AMBER: This is mine.
SHAYNA: All right, are you keeping it?
AMBER: Oh, yeah. SHAYNA: All right, I’ll give Kennedy’s stuff
that we’re keeping, and you go from there. Here you go. What kind of sneakers
do you want for school? – I don’t want anything fancy. SHAYNA: Nothing fancy? KENNEDY: Mama!
SHAYNA: Yes, honey? SHAYNA: You sad? (Kennedy babbling) I think one
of the hardest things is to consider what this is
doing to your other children. You going to fold that
for mommy? – Aw, thank you. SHAYNA: Because
I’m not just Tearah’s mom. I have two other children
who are living this with me. You going to be a kangaroo
for Halloween? What’s going to be best
for them? It says “Amber has been a joy to
have in class this year. She has shown improvements
in areas of math and language.” You did amazing! – I want to read it. SHAYNA: How do I care
for all of my kids when one of my kids remains
in crisis mode? ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: There’s so many families that are fighting
back and forth, there’s parents who had to spend
every dollar that they’ve had gaining mental health services
for their child. ♪ ♪ WOMAN: Isn’t it ridiculous?
I mean… – I didn’t even know
that was serviced, you know? WOMAN: Oh, Shayna. SHAYNA: Hi.
– Hey! Oh, it’s so good to see you.
SHAYNA: Aw. Thankfully, I met a family. You know, I met people
who I… for once, I… a lightbulb went off,
and I said, “I’m not by myself.” Because for a long time I took
it personal, because I said, “This… I don’t understand
why this is happening.” WOMAN: You go out of your mind,
practically, trying to find the resources to get
the appropriate medication, to find
the appropriate therapist, while it’s like, “What the hell
is a matter with those parents?” So you’re constantly working
against that while trying to deal
with your kid. WOMAN: I’ve been so concerned that if we didn’t get
my daughter the help she needed early…
– Mm-hmm. – You know, what’s going to
happen when she hits puberty, and we still can’t get her
treatment? Sadly, and I hope I’m wrong…
– No, you know! – I hope I’m wrong for all of
you that are sitting here. My son right now is sitting
in adult prison in Rhode Island. – At age…?
– At age 17. ♪ ♪ SHAYNA: (voice breaking):
I wanted Tearah home so bad. Oh!
– Oh, (inaudible) nice! SHAYNA: You like? ♪ ♪ You have all these summer months
just going by, and I’m like, “Is my daughter
ever going to come home?” ♪ ♪ Hi! Last time. (phone ringing)
WOMAN: Bradley Hospital. I know she’s probably ready to
come out of here. – Oh, I’m sure she is. TEARAH: Mom?
SHAYNA: Tearah? TEARAH: Mommy!
SHAYNA: Tearah! Come here, girl.
WOMAN: Aw. SHAYNA: More kisses. (makes kissing sound)
More kisses! (music playing on speakers) TEARAH: Yeah, right guys? (people laughing) SHAYNA: You might get addicted. (laughing) Yes! (chattering, music playing
on speakers) – You’re going to be dancing,
girl. ♪ Clean jeans on… ♪ – Hey, hey, hey, hey.
– ♪ Okay, okay ♪ ♪ Ah, what y’all doing… ♪ SHAYNA: As I’m very excited,
there’s a lot to be done. Also I’m a little anxious about
her reaction to life again. (hip-hop music playing
on speakers) I know what I’m doing. Uh-huh. Hey, hey! (chattering and laughing
continue) (birds chirping) Kennedy, come here! What did you eat?
AMBER: Oh, what did I eat? Um, chicken… chicken and waffles. TEARAH: Waffle? SHAYNA: Show her the sign
for waffles. AMBER: You know this sign? SHAYNA: Show her the sign
for waffles. TEARAH: Waffle.
SHAYNA: That’s waffles? No, that’s pretzels. Waffles.
– Oh, waffle. SHAYNA: Waffle, waffle. I got meds, three got meds… three are taken on Tuesday. SHATNEY: Shayna was able to
access a specific pot of money through the Department
of Developmental Services. We were kind of ambivalent
on it, because it had its pros,
it had its cons. It had Tearah home,
had her out of the hospital, it had her back at school. But at the same time,
it wasn’t the best. There was services
that we still couldn’t access, like a psychiatrist. They also just kind of came in
and said, “Okay, we have this money. Now you, Shayna, need to go out
and hire people.” (chattering) It can be challenging
with in-home services, how, as a parent,
do you manage that? It’s a everyday job, where you’re figuring out
what works, what doesn’t work. She has gone after the
interpreter, um, if I’m at work. We’ve done our best to kind of
figure out our way around that. The way we have the setup is that Tearah has
a sensory area, right? Because she has, um,
depth issues when it comes to sensory. So that
if she’s becoming anxious, she doesn’t have a way… you know, we might drink
a cup of coffee… TEARAH: No!
– Maybe have a cup of… yeah. TEARAH: No, I need more time!
– She’s upset. WOMAN: Do you want to go…
do you want to… you can go… – She’ll come for me,
she’ll come for me. TEARAH: No! I need more time! I need more time!
(screams) She’s anxious,
there’s a lot of people here. It’s fine. Have a seat, have a seat. Park, park, park, park. (Shayna groans) (breathing deeply) Okay, we’re ready. (groans) She’s 17 now, so my job is
to not coddle her. It’s for Tearah to figure out,
“Okay, “why do I feel the way I do? “How do I express that? How do I get past
where I am right now?” ♪ ♪ Tearah is going to be
productive. Tearah’s is going to work. She’s going to be able to be
independent. ♪ ♪ But it’s my responsibility
as her mother to make her feel safe
and let her know that we will get through this
together. Two-one; again?
– You see this? Two years ago today. SHAYNA: Mm-hmm.
– You remember this? – It came up this morning.
– Oh, my Lord. – Mm-hmm.
– Oh, God. Look at that. (Tearah talking on speakers) TEARAH: Amber, what did you do
to your face? How do you feel about seeing
that video? You feel happy? Because you’re home now? Who’s turn is it? ♪ ♪ (dominoes sliding) (laughing) ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪