Back in June, I brought you the sad story of January "Jani" Schofield, a then 6-year-old living with schizophrenia, in an effort to highlight why as a country we are in desperate need of fully-funded human services for both the physically and mentally disabled and health care reform, on a larger scale, including the public option. On Tuesday, Oprah will have an exclusive interview with Jani and her family.
Because Jani needs 24-hour supervision, traditional treatments haven't worked, and in order to protect both Jani and her brother, her parents are now living in separate homes. Although Jani's story seems extreme, too many people suffer in silence because of the horrible stigma still attached to mental illness. Although it's well documented that people with mental illnesses are not stupid, and in fact, many of them are geniuses, they are often treated as sub-human, incompetent and lazy with little, if any, intelligence. They are ignored, ridiculed, and treated as though they have no feelings and deserve no respect.
I'm not exactly the biggest Oprah fan, but it's my sincerest hope that her popularity and influence will help bring much needed attention to the issue of mental illness and we can begin some real conversations and quit trying to sweep mental illness under the rug.
For a quick primer on Jani's story, watch the video below and then tune into Oprah on Tuesday for what I'm sure will be a story you'll never forget.