A father runs to raise mental illness awareness

By Tracy Clemons – bio|e-mail

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA)- Guy Fessenden is running coast to coast on Highway 80 in the name of his daughter.

"Suzanne is a wonderful, caring, kind, and considerate 28 year old who suffers from schizophrenia, and that tends to override everything else," he says.

He tells KSLA News 12 that Suzanne was diagnosed when she was 19 years old, but that her illness had started long before.

"She didn't tell anyone for three years that she had six screaming voices in her head telling her every minute of every day that she was horrible, disgusting, ugly, a burden to her family, and unlovable, and that she should kill herself."

The latest statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness say nearly 183,000 adults in Louisiana live with serious mental illness, and about 49,000 children.

Tammy Wright, of the Community Enrichment Programs, says there are a lot of cases that are undiagnosed, mis-diagnosed, or untreated- "A lot of people with mental illness end up in jail, or homeless, so they're not treated for their illness. They're falling through the cracks."

Wright agrees with Guy Fessenden that there's more the system should do. She's had to cut programs.

"Now we can only teach them the skill, but we can't go and make sure they implement it correctly."

As Fessenden runs for the millions of people with mental illnesses, he wants to make people think.

"The next time you go to the movies, look to your left, look to your right, and look behind you. One of you has been diagnosed. It's everywhere, and it touches every person's life."

You can follow him on his journey, donate to his cause, or even run along for a few miles if you'd like.

Check out his web site or facebook page.


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