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The Balanced Mind Parent Network Delivers Answers and Hope

April 26th, 2012

CHICAGO, April 24, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Balanced Mind Parent Network’s “Bringing Hope Home” luncheon on April 19 featured expert speakers and powerful personal stories about the life-saving importance of educating and empowering parents raising children with mood disorders.

Executive Director Susan B. Resko introduced a moving video, produced and donated by Steve and Wendy Sefcik of Sefcik Productions, New Jersey, who lost their 16-year-old son T.J. to suicide. The Sefciks discovered The Balanced Mind Parent Network after their son’s death, and offered their story to help other parents find the help they need to prevent such tragedies.

“We didn’t win this battle, we didn’t,” Steve said. “But now, knowing about The Balanced Mind Parent Network…we know that other families have an opportunity to learn a lot more about their child’s illness than we did.”

With early intervention, and the right treatment for children with depression and bipolar disorder, “stories don’t have to end this way,” Susan Resko said.

The inaugural luncheon, attended by 160 Balanced Mind members and guests, was held at the University Club of Chicago. The fundraiser is planned as an annual event, and will build on a very strong beginning. Sponsors were Rogers Memorial Hospital, Motorola Mobility Foundation, The Private Bank and Make it Better magazine, and the Emcee was author and educator Leslie Baldacci.

Expert speakers included Brooke Whitted, an attorney and past Balanced Mind board member. Whitted, who specializes in special education and mental health law, spoke about what works and doesn’t work to stop bullying. Mr. Whitted served on the Illinois Anti-Bullying Task Force, and most children with mood disorders have experienced bullying.

Despite the profusion of “zero tolerance” laws to combat bullying in recent years, studies have shown these and other punitive measures are not most effective, Whitted said. He recounted his experience of being bullied and his rescue by a high school football star who ordered the bully to leave him alone.

Recruitment of such “high-status peers” to protect targeted children is one of the most effective ways to stop harassment of a child, Whitted said. Other measures include prompt and thorough investigations by school authorities, school accountability, and parent and student buy-in, he said.

Garen Staglin, owner of Staglin Family Vineyard in Napa Valley, and the father of a son who was diagnosed with schizophrenia while attending Dartmouth College, offered hope in the form of research to find the causes and treatments for a variety of brain disorders. The next decade holds great promise for new and effective treatments, with the goal of curing many forms of mental illness, and treating traumatic brain injuries and PTSD, he said.

Brandon Staglin graduated from Dartmouth after taking just a year off, and now runs marketing and technology for the family vineyard. He was married in 2009, and lives a great life that is a model for what can happen when people with mental illness have the right treatment and supports.

Mr. Staglin is a nationally-respected advocate who, with his wife Shari, has raised more than $135 million for mental health charities and research, and who founded International Mental Health Research Organization, and co-founded Bring Change 2 Mind with actress Glenn Close, and One Mind 4 Research, with former U.S. Representative Patrick Kennedy. The Balanced Mind is a founding partner of Bring Change 2 Mind.

On a very practical level, Staglin he offered “Garen’s Guidance for Parents”:

• Unconditional love
• Compliance is mandatory, because without medications, our children won’t get well
• Patience—there is no magic pill
• No guilt or blame—nobody did anything wrong
• Take care of yourself
• Don’t be satisfied with ok. Our children deserve full, rich lives.
• Provide structure
• Encourage social involvement, don’t allow isolation
• Have hope! Research is promising and cures are possible.

The luncheon was the first of what is planned as an annual fundraising event, said Susan Resko, and will build on a very strong beginning.

The Balanced Mind Parent Network was founded in 1999 as the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation by parents seeking answers and treatment for their children. They turned to the Internet and founded a community, launched a pioneering website, and enlisted the guidance of leading psychiatric researchers and clinicians.

In 2011, we changed our name to The Balanced Mind Parent Network and expanded our mission to serve parents of children with all mood disorders, including bipolar disorder and depression. Today, The Balanced Mind serves more than 600,000 visitors who use our online resources every year, 4,500 parents and caregivers who belong to our support networks, 1,200 parents who contact our Family Help Line for crisis assistance, and 6,000 visitors who follow our blogs, view expert webinars, or listen to Flipswitch podcasts.