Father speaks on mental illness and ways to improve treatment

Photo courtesy of Pete Earley

By Sydney Stalnecker

The philosophy and religious studies department is hosting author and Washington Post reporter Pete Earley for its semi-annual speaker series event Nov. 9.

The Dr. Thomas and Albert J. Shipka Speaker Series was named after those who created and continue to sponsor the event.  Robyn Gaier, a philosophy professor, said the department is thankful to them for making the series possible.

Titled “Hard Lessons Learned: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness,” the talk will discuss the major points made in Earley’s book “Crazy,” which was published in 2007.

Earley’s book discusses his experience with having a son diagnosed with mental illness who was eventually put in jail. It has won awards from the American Psychiatric Association, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health America.

Gaier said Earley’s book asks the question, “What does our society do to persons with mental illnesses?”

Earley is heavily involved in the reform of treatment for those who deal with mental illness. He has testified five times about mental health reform before the U.S. Congress and maintains a mental health blog. 

“It’s really just to bring awareness to this public health crisis, both in terms of mental illness and then what we do to those that have a mental illness,” Gaier said. “Most of them end up in the criminal justice system.”

Gaier said the event is targeted for a more general audience.

“We try to get speakers that will talk about issues that will encompass the greater campus,” Gaier said. 

The event will be held on Zoom at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 9 and the event is free for all Youngstown State University students. After the event, the talk will be posted to YouTube.


For those interested, a limited number of Earley’s books will be available for free upon request. Email rgaier@ysu.edu to find out more.

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