One of the most powerful photos we published when I was a newspaper editor was a picture of dozens of prescription bottles, each with a number taped to the side. Placed in a secure place in an administrator's office, each bottle, numbered for privacy reasons, belonged to a child.
The assignment was for the reporter to find out how many schoolchildren were on prescription medication to help them get through the day without suffering mood swings that sometimes caused them to act out.
The subject of children's mental health issues is a serious one that, like adults, often gets pushed aside because of the difficulties it presents to parents, relatives and caregivers – especially the children who suffer from the stigma of having a mental disorder.
It's important enough that television producer Kathryn Rodenmeyer and co-producer Dr. Rick deShazo, at Southern Remedy, have compiled a five-part series that will begin airing September 25. When Kathryn first approached me about the topic, we discussed doing the project in one episode. She quickly came to me after researching the topic with the accurate conclusion that the problem is too complex for one program.
We're calling the series Growing Pains: Mental Health and Mississippi's Children. Many of them are suffering in silence because of the shame society has attached to the very real illness. At MPB, we challenge ourselves to produce programming that enlightens and makes a difference. With Growing Pains, it is our goal to inform and to do our part in removing the stigma.