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Mother talks of challenges of raising child with mental illness

Arielle Brumfield/KTVZ

Author of new book speaks in Bend to bring awareness of mental health issues

Mental health issues are still often a taboo topic in society, but the Oregon mother of a mentally ill child is working to break the stigma and bring more awareness to the issue.

Andrea Berryman-Childreth is teaching parents through her new book called On the Edge: Help and Hope for Parenting Mentally Ill Children on how to help acknowledge and support a child who suffers from mental illnesses.

Berryman-Childreth and her daughter, Chloe, shared their experience dealing with mental illness Thursday at an open forum at OSU-Cascades. Chloe suffers from non-verbal learning disorder, ADHD, anxiety and depression, and received her first diagnosis at the age of 3.

Berryman-Childreth says current stigma often prevents close relatives and friends from getting involved in a child's treatment or care. She says it can also hinder a person from seeking proper treatment.

"One of the things we learned with Chloe with her treatment, and years and years of counseling, is to really check back in with your kids and keep as connected with them as possible," Berryman-Childreth said. "It's not as much of the helicoptering, but empathy. Ask lots of questions and listen. Don't try to fix, ask a lot of questions -- and if you need help, you seek help."

Berryman-Childreth is the founder of The Lemonade Project –, a movement dedicated to calling out stigma surrounding mental illness and empowering families and individuals to share their stories, while improving access to equitable services and insurance coverage.

"Mental illness is a spectrum, it's not black and white. Sweeping this issue under the rug just perpetuates other issues," Berryman-Childreth said.

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Arielle Brumfield

Arielle Brumfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Arielle here.


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