Father of Sparkman Student Calls for More Awareness, Help for Mental Illness

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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 speaks out his son's depression on Oct. 22. (David Wood/WHNT News 19)

Daniel Adamek speaks out his son's depression on Oct. 22. (David Wood/WHNT News 19)

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.

Christian Adamek (Photo: Family)

Christian Adamek (Photo: Family)

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.


  • Bonnie Henley Harrison

    Christian was an amazing young man and a fun loving person. How brave of his father to face the media and bring to light the desperate need for diagnosis and treatment of the mental illness and depression associated with adolescence. It would have been easy for him to just let the school take the blame for everything, but instead he thought beyond his grief and chose to reach out in an effort to help others avoid the same grief. He did not play the blame game…respect to you Mr. Adamek.

  • Bob

    God bless this father. Now maybe that woman from al.com will get off her high horse and stop printing those stories.

  • Howell Lee

    I have known Daniel Adamek for many years and served with him on non-profit boards. Knowing Daniel I would not expect anything different from him. He is a good man who loves him children and his community. What a selfless statement for him to make!

  • Leigh

    God bless this family. Our kids are hurting. We need to talk to our kids and like Mr. Adamek said, we need to evaluate the mental health services to make it easier to treat these children struggling with mental illness. God bless them. I’m so thankful this father shared the truth and was so transparent. I pray this will help to save others who are struggling with depression. God bless them.

  • Bill

    This is RIDICULOUS that this “doctor” turned this tragedy into a political football, just so he could promote Obamacare. SHAME ON HIM.

  • George

    Bless his father. I know it was difficult for him during these trying times. And shame on you WHNT for taking this story and turning it into a pro Affordable Health Care commercial.

  • Lauren

    George, it sounds like you zeroed in on one aspect of the piece rather than the whole picture. Awareness, less stigma, and community engagement in mental health was also a point. What if people in the community were more aware of the specific signs of mental health, or a person doesn’t feel ashamed asking for help- think of the possibilities. What if this was your neighbor, friend, child? What if they were ashamed to ask for help because they didn’t want to be seen as ‘crazy’ or all of the other negative ideas associated with mental health? From the director’s interview, it sounds like the mental health first aid is a great preventative program. Now, aside from the discussion about the health care act, think about the possiblities of having everyone in your health care ‘team’ know what’s going on and what to look for. If your primary doctor is aware of you being treated for mental health and is in contact with your professional, they can both be on the look out for things you might not notice. Mental health problems can first show signs to others outwardly. If your primary noticed a rapid weight loss in your child and they were aware of various mental health problems associated with rapid weight loss, the early intervention could save lives.

    • george

      Lauren, You assume that I know nothing about mental health problems. I don’t use words such as you have suggested I do. I do have mental disabled family members. And I have had family members who have taken their own lives because of mental issues. The article should have talked about things you discuss. Issues to watch for, signs of problems and maybe suggest doctors to see. And not promoting Obamacare and how great it will be saving lives such as people with mental health issues.
      Good Day

  • Tammy

    Daniel is a very gracious man and I commend his comments and promoting awareness. I would expect no less from him, however I think he let that Principal off the hook way too easily. He had a more pervasive problem and it wasn’t the reason but it was handled extremely poorly and was definitely a contributor.

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