I had a bad marriage. My son recognized the reality of his stepfather’s infidelity before I did, and I was only aware of my child’s emotional change, not the source of it. Teachers may not know about the true source of behavior outbursts in the classroom. My son is sweet and sensitive by nature, but, as Dr. Ruby Payne teaches, boys are more likely to express emotions in the form of trouble in school. My son got into a fight in the locker room, which was very much out of character, as he was usually a nonconfrontational peaceful child. I was as puzzled as his school administrators were.

We had great health insurance and fiscal resources, but the best care in the county was provided by My Health My Resources (MHMR). Private mental health physicians had a six-month waiting list. The local MHMR was a 45-minute drive away, and it took the first five patients in line on intake day, which was Thursday mornings at 8 a.m. County resources based on tax dollars could not accommodate all the patients in need of care. Thursday mornings were (and still are) the only intake time available for new patients.

I drove to the facility in the dark of an early winter morning, and I assured my son that I understood that depression blocks all positive emotions such as acceptance, worth, and love. Depression magnifies remorse, rage, guilt, and isolation. I promised him that the proper help could turn things around for him. I promised my son that he could feel peace again with professional help.

When we arrived, there was a line around the building of people who were attempting to establish care. We were turned away, and I felt that I had failed my child. We repeated the process five weeks in a row, and we arrived an hour before the facility opened, but the line was already long. He couldn’t miss first period any longer, as his math grade was slipping due to weekly absences because of my attempt to gain intake to mental health care for my child.

We eventually gained access to a private psychiatrist after six weeks on a waiting list, but the process opened my eyes to holes in our community safety net. To provide all children safe classrooms and to manage the “in your face” reaction of boys in the education system, access to care needs to be available, but my introduction to Dr. Payne’s work through books and workshops gave me the tools to manage in the meantime. My son grew into a healthy, successful adult.