After Sandy Hook, mental health pros push for awareness - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

After Sandy Hook, mental health pros push for awareness

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Down the street from the WIS studios, the Department of Mental Health's Bull Street campus sits mostly empty.

There's not one public mental health institution in the whole state. Even Gov. Nikki Haley admits there's a gap.

Kelly Ann Troyer says in between that gap is where she and her 19-year-old son live.

"He's been treated at Duke University. He's been at MUSC. He's been at MUSC. He's been to the best neurologists, psychiatrists you know, he's had speech therapy and occupational therapy and physical therapy, and that's been our life," said Troyer.

Troyer says she emphasizes with the family of the Newtown shooter because she knows what it's like to have a son with violent tendencies -- an adult son you have to take care of.

"There's no way I would have a weapon in my house because I know it would be used on me," said Troyer.

And she is not alone. Troyer is a Midlands woman who runs a resource group for parents of children with mental illness says she sees it all the time, but people just don't talk about it.

"We've been talking about this for years and constantly people say 'Federation of Families of South Carolina? Never heard of that organization.' It's like we're out there," said Diane Flashnick, a worker for the group that helps parents dealing with children with mental illness.

Troyer says her group is out there to connect families with resources. It's a common struggle, she says.

"If I can't get help I need for my son, I know there are thousands of people in this state not getting help because I know who to call," said Troyer.

Depending on a child's diagnosis, there are several options in the state to help give parents a starting place.

"Early diagnosis is key factor in parents being able to know what's going on with their child, begin to get resources that will give them the tools they need and treatment options that are available and help them navigate the system," said Flashnick.

Flashnick says it takes work, and options may be limited, but they are there. Maybe because of what happened 786 miles away in Newtown, Connecticut people will seek them out.

"I got very angry because this is not the first time this happened in our country.  Won't be the last, and if we provide adequate mental health care, treatment and facilities, there are many people who can live in recovery," said Troyer.

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