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CBS Detroit previews Michigan State University study on mental health crisis among youth

CBS Detroit previews Michigan State University study on mental health crisis among youth
CBS Detroit previews Michigan State University study on mental health crisis among youth 05:30

(CBS DETROIT) - Three mothers -- Laura Marshall, Michelle Massey-Barnes, and Rachel Cuschieri-Murray -- have all experienced mental health crises with their children. They teamed up, formed a Facebook group, and now are helping hundreds of other families across the state find information and resources for their children in crisis. 

Michigan State University's Department of Psychiatry is preparing to launch a Safe and Sound Schools initiative with funding through the state Department of Education. MSU is planning a five-year study pairing mental health mentors and advocates with children in crisis. The goal is to stop school shootings before they happen by intervening and a child's mental health early. 

"Safe and Schools was created by Michelle Gay. Unfortunately, she lost her daughter Josephine in Sandy Hook. She actually had another daughter in the school at the time and that daughter survived. So, when we got the appropriation from the state, I had the opportunity to join Safe and Sound Schools as the senior director for violence prevention, and Alyse and I are the co-directors of this project," Dr. Frank Straub, the study co-director, said to the mothers. "But I think one of the things that sadly we found through our analysis ... that so many of these individuals, whether they complete the attack or the attack was averted, got lost in the cracks. There was not one system per se, that wrapped their arms around these kids and their families, and I always say their families because ... we can do everything we can for the child, but if we're not helping the caregivers, then we're fighting a losing battle."

The moms sat down with Straub and co-director Alyse Folino to discuss their need for support.

"At the time my son was in Utah. We were private paying because our insurance didn't cover it. I always have to make sure I get that in there, our insurance did not cover it," said Cuschieri-Murray.

"All I want for him -- because at this point, at 14 almost 15 years old -- he doesn't even have one. Not one secure attachment in his life, someone that he can feel loved and communicate with and feel safe and secure. I can't tell you how putting that into words breaks my heart," said Marshall.

"You're talking about our families, like our families, the families that we work with and we're connected to, like you're talking about us; I've never felt so identified. And we have almost 600 of them in our group," Massey-Barnes said. "They are fighting tirelessly for resources for their children. These are some of the bravest strongest parents I know that should not have to be advocating the way they're advocating. It's very validating to have all of you say 'Parents need support. It's not because you're bad parents. It's because it takes a whole team approach to navigate these really complex needs.'"

"Kids need to be assessed in a way that develops a plan. That truly is an intensive care plan. A plan that is devised by a panel of people who understand mental health," said Alyse Folino, the co-director of the study.

And now as a result, our team of moms and CBS Detroit are being given a ringside seat for the next five years as special guests of the Psychiatry Department as we all search for solutions for a state in crisis.

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