Normalizing Mental Illness: One Mom's Hope (Multimedia)

Joyce Plis is the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Stanislaus County. She works to educate the public on how people with mental illness can lead successful lives if given appropriate treatment. She also helps people gain access to treatment. Plis’ son has schizophrenia. Produced for the Modesto Bee. Photography, audio and production by Lauren M. Whaley/CHCF Center for Health Reporting.

In recent years, a faltering local economy has combined with ongoing state and county budget cuts to severely reduce Stanislaus County’s ability to treat adults with mental illnesses – a trend reflected around California. In four years, the county department of Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, which oversees mental health services, has lost more than 200 positions – some 37 percent of its staff. In 2003-4, the department was able to serve nearly 13,000 county residents. Today, that number has dropped closer to 9,000, while the need almost certainly has grown.

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Authors

Lauren M. Whaley

Multimedia journalist Lauren M. Whaley is the president of the national Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS). For the Center and its partners, she produces videos, radio stories, photographs and other multimedia and written pieces. She covers topics such as childbirth policies, mental illness and dialysis and diabetes and helps her colleagues promote their work. Her Center work has won honors from the Scripps Howard Awards and the Association of Health Care Journalists She has contributed stories to Southern California Public Radio, KQED Public Radio, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Modesto Bee, among others. While living in Wyoming, she worked as a newspaper reporter, blog editor and freelance magazine writer. She earned her master's degree in specialized science journalism from the University of Southern California, her bachelor's from Bowdoin College and spent summers in her early 20s taking high school girls on Arctic canoe expeditions. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and son.  

© 2014 California Healthcare Foundation Center for Health Reporting

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