Schizophrenia is a lifelong diagnosis, and not something that many families are prepared to accept. A recent story on the Today Show featured Joey Hudy, who was not your typical teen. At age 14, his marshmallow cannon invention caught the eye of President Obama at a 2012 science fair at the White House; Business Insider named him one of the ten smartest kids in the world. Two short years later he caught the eye of the tech giant, Intel, and became one of the youngest interns in history.
But life as the Hudy family knew it soon changed. After moving to China for a job opportunity while still a teenager, Joey began to change, and alarm bells went off for his parents. He was becoming paranoid, and telling his parents there were helicopter pads, people were watching him, and the Chinese government was out to get him. His parents thought if they could get him home, everything would be back to normal. But that was not the case.
“The son I knew was gone,” his mom stated. They felt as if his body was there, but someone else had taken over. After being diagnosed with schizophrenia, the Hudy’s felt Joey could take some medicine and be fine, not realizing this was something they would all contend with for the rest of their lives. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 3.2 million people suffer from schizophrenia or 1% of the population. This chronic brain disorder causes hallucinations, delusions, troubled relationships, and reduced motivation. Schizophrenia destroys youth invincibility.
Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge treats individuals suffering from schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in an inpatient setting. Located just outside of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Smoky Mountain Lodge provides the most advanced and effective methods available for treatment. “We approach the treatment of schizophrenia holistically here at Pasadena Villa,” says Sally Lawes, Executive Director. The first step is identifying the correct medication to reduce or eliminate symptoms. Once the medication is stable, the focus moves towards helping individuals in learning to manage their illness by staying compliant with medication, repairing relationships affected by the illness, and developing and practicing new coping skills to prevent stressors that lead to relapse.
Dr. Kelly Ownby, Medical Director at Smoky Mountain Lodge added, “The negative symptoms of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders can be the most difficult to treat with medication and are often the most debilitating symptoms regarding an individual’s ability to function independently.” At Smoky Mountain Lodge, our Social Integration Model is just one of the tools we use to help improve these negative symptoms. In addition to Social Integration, we use a combination of group and individual therapy to teach skills in real-world encounters that allow patients to assimilate back into everyday life and regain control of their lives.
Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, who also battled with mental health issues has become a spokesperson for more understanding and treatment options. Mental health should be treated as “the natural disaster that it is,” according to Kennedy. Moving forward after Joey’s diagnosis, the Hudy family has since moved Joey to a long-term care facility in California. Shining a light on their son’s illness has been a way to help others recognize the signs of schizophrenia and get the treatment they need.
If you or a loved one would like more information on schizophrenia or other mental health or co-occurring substance use disorders, please call us at 407-574-5190 or complete our contact form. You never alone. Pasadena Villa is available to offer hope. We currently offer treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.