MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The father of a Sparkman High School student who took his life earlier this month came forward Tuesday to address his son's mental illness and call for more help for teens dealing with depression.
Daniel Adamek spoke at Sci-Quest in Huntsville, where he is a board member. His son, Christian Adamek, died October 3 after hanging himself.
"Christian was an extremely bright, creative, inquisitive, thoughtful, kind and empathetic person. To suggest that he took the drastic measures he did, due to the consequences he faced, is a terribly oversimplistic viewpoint."
The consequences Daniel Adamek referred to meant the punishment Christian may have faced for streaking at the Sparkman/Grissom game the previous Friday, September 27.
Daniel Adamek did not address specifics of his son's situation with Sparkman High School. He kept the focus of his comments on more help being available for families dealing with a child's depression and mental illness.
"That line of thought distracts us from the real problem," Adamek said. "I ask that we do not make this about any specific event or Christian's specific challenges."
Adamek thanked families who had reached out to him because they had read about his son through social media or watched a story on national media.
Adamek said his son was depressed. The family tried for months to get the right treatment.
"We've been struggling for some time to get Christian through the pain of depression," Daniel Adamek said. "The real issue is why we couldn't get him the medical help he needed without trying every avenue we did."
"Adolescence is a hard time. Children have to cope with a lot, all the while they are struggling with the changes of adolescence, they must deal with hundreds of other peers who are trying to cope," he added.
"We followed every avenue apparently available to us, through the medical community, through the hospital system. But, we still couldn't get the necessary diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring that he so desperately needed," Adamek said. "We needed to know what he needed. That's the kind of help we were looking for."
"Nobody should have to make more than one phone call to get that kind of help because there's just not that much time," he added.
There is a Christian Adamek Memorial Fund set up at Redstone Federal Credit Union. Donations can be made at any branch location.
Following Daniel Adamek's comments Tuesday morning, WHNT News 19 decided to take action and reach out to a professional for perspective and expertise on just what challenges the mental health service community faces in regard to timely diagnosis and treatment.
According to Brian Davis, Executive Director of the Mental Health Center of Madison County, the myth is that mental issues among adolescents is not prevalent - he says, research shows 1 in 4 people in a given year will have a diagnosable mental disorder.
Davis admits there is a problem with the American healthcare system at large.
"Mental health providers, substance abuse providers, primary care providers, outpatient, inpatient; there's so many different entry ways and what's broken is we don't always all communicate with each other very well," explains Davis.
Davis says the key moving forward is fostering a movement in healthcare toward a 'no wrong door' system.
"That's what's largely behind the Affordable Care Act and through a lot of the healthcare reform that's happening now is to have a healthcare system that's far more integrated."
Davis says in his professional experience, a battle like the one the Adamek family describes is a war against fragmentation.
"That's what we have to fix in this country," maintains Davis. "Whether you support the legislation or not I don't think anybody can argue the fact that we need to improve our delivery system."
Because, Davis says, for every story of success and positive growth in the mental health arena, there are also just as many who fall through the cracks.
"Unfortunately there are also a lot of those stories where we weren't able to respond as quickly and aggressively as we need in order to change a negative outcome for someone."
If a teenager you know is experiencing mental health issues, you are urged to open up a dialogue or seek professional help immediately. The Madison County Mental Health Center's NOVA program for youth and family provides comprehensive behavioral health services to children and adolescents. You can reach the NOVA center to schedule an appointment by calling 256-705-6493.