This post is published as part of the Association of University Press’s University Press Week blog tour. #ReadUP.
Mindy Greiling was a state legislator for twenty years. She helped found the nation’s first state mental health caucus, and has served on state and national boards of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Greiling’s son, Jim, was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in his early twenties. In Fix What You Can: Schizophrenia and a Lawmaker’s Fight for Her Son, Greiling describes challenges shared by many families. These range from the practical (medication compliance, housing, employment) to the heartbreaking—suicide attempts, victimization, and illicit drug use. Written with her son’s cooperation, Fix What You Can chronicles Greiling’s efforts to address problems in the mental health system, including obstacles to parental access to information and insufficient funding for care and research.
In the summer of 2020, the University of Minnesota Press launched a podcast to give authors an opportunity to connect with scholarly peers and experts in their fields. Greiling has been featured in multiple episodes, having invited three people to join her in conversation.
- The first is with Alisa Roth of Minnesota Public Radio, author of Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness, to talk about the criminalization of mental illness. “My son has never been in prison and his jail stays have been short,” says Greiling, “(but) no one with serious mental illness should be in the criminal justice system instead of the hospital.”
- The second episode is with University of Minnesota child psychiatrist Dr. George Realmuto, also a family member of a person with mental illness, who tells Greiling: “Your book does such a great job of demonstrating how elusive the beginning that journey is down the rabbit hole of mental illness and addiction.”
- The third and final episode in the podcast’s mental health series features Jim Trepp, former executive director of Tasks Unlimited (Minnesota’s Fairweather lodge program), discussing recovery and the dream of a better mental health system. “We talk and talk and talk about recovery,” says Trepp, “but you don’t see any recovery in the mainstream system.”