Huntsville man builds mental health nonprofit in late son's memory
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Mental health is a statewide, national, even global epidemic. To help change that, a Huntsville man has made the organization called Little Orange Fish. He is fighting to improve mental health care for our children and says why it's an issue that is so personal to him.
"We need to be pursuing improving the quality of life and not just saving lives," said Daniel Adamek.
Adamek lost his 15-year-old son, Christian, nearly five years ago to suicide on Oct. 3, 2013. He lives on teaching others about the importance of quality mental health care so other families won't have to go through the same pain his family went through.
"Fifty percent of all people will suffer from some form of mental illness or severe emotional distress," Adamek explained.
He started the nonprofit organization called Little Orange Fish. The name came from a book Christian wrote.
"Looking for connection, looking for inclusion, looking to deal with issues of loneliness," Adamek added.
He works closely with schools.
"There are things to say and not to say to students when they are going through something whatever that is trying to help teachers understand better how to communicate to get that student to get the help that they need," he said.
Adamek also gives teachers a resource called Kognito, a virtual role playing game that helps them screen a student and address mental health with motivational interviewing techniques.
"They are given options on how to engage with students who have shown different signs and like I said every situation is its own," he said.
Signs are changes of behavior or appearance.
Adamek wants to foster community understanding that mental health is everyone's concern and that we need to increase the availability and quality of care.
"Look, if we focus on improving the quality of life it will help millions more," he said.
Adamek goes door-to-door talking to families as well.
His son was in treatment months prior to his death. They didn't know the magnitude of the emotional pain that he was in and wasn't able to get him the right mental health care in time.
Little Orange Fish's next fundraiser is at Stand Up Live on Oct. 18. This is the day after Christian's birthday.
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