Eastern Iowa families struggle to find care, during a mental health crisis

Published: May. 1, 2017 at 2:44 PM CDT
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To his family, Marc Graham is known as a go-getter.

"Constantly in motion, constantly moving." Marc's sister, Theresa Graham-Mineart said.

"Into baseball, very active, even into adulthood," Marc's mom, Pat Malatek said.

As a teenager, Marc battled ADHD and depression. Marc refused to let his symptoms take control, but that changed his senior year.

"He wasn't going to graduate, because of his grades," Malatek said.

Malatek says he then started to self medicate and at 19 started hearing voices.

"He told me that at home. He was just sitting in the chair and he just came out with it. And I didn't know where to go with it at that point. Voices that's a whole new thing," Malatek said.

Pat turned to her daughter, Marc's older sister, for help.

Theresa Graham- Mineart works in mental health services. She and a school counselor helped Marc graduate.

"So because I did work in the mental health field we were able to get care I think more readily than other families can," Theresa Graham-Mineart said.

Marc struggled with psychosis episodes through his adult life. His family says they were fortunate because he knew when to ask for help.

"You know it wasn't unusual for him to hear voices in and out, but there would be times when it would be constant, he wouldn't sleep for days he would hear things or people telling him to harm himself or sometimes others, but those weren't things he wanted to do," Theresa Graham-Mineart said.

There's one episode the family will never forget.

Marc called his mom for help, and she quickly realized he needed professional help.

Malatek didn't know where to take him, because there was a shortage of psychiatric beds, so she turned to St. Luke's.

"He was admitted to a medical floor. I stayed with him to 3 a.m. then they had a bed open up," Malatek said.

Marc's family says the doctors helped in this situation, but they worry other families may not have the same outcome.

"The lawmakers, or people in Des Moines, they're supposed to be looking out for us. They need to be listening to us, what we are going through. This issues isn't going to change until they change," Malatek said.

Marc died six years ago, from unknown causes.

"His body had taken a beating over the years, and my own thoughts on it is his body just kind of of collapsed one night," Malatek said.

This mother daughter team faced the issues for decades, and are still determined to push for expanded mental health care.

"It's really frustrating right now, to listen to it all. I don't know where Marc would be right now," Malatek said.