May 4, 2022

by Luciana Perez Uribe Guinassi | Searchlight N.M.

Kenneth Helberg, 46, was placed in foster care for the first time at the age of 5, after he showed up to his kindergarten class in diapers, unable to tie his torn-up shoes and unbathed for weeks. He spent the next five years bouncing between foster care and psychiatric facilities or living with his abusive biological mother in Minnesota. At 10, he became a ward of the state and was placed with a permanent foster family. He dates his mental illness back to those childhood years. But he did not fully understand it for decades.

In 2016, now living in New Mexico, the dam broke. Helberg, 40, attempted to take his life by drinking and driving, and was admitted to an Albuquerque hospital. When he was discharged, the staff gave him a 30-day supply of medications and told him to book follow-up appointments with a psychiatrist and counselor. But when he called them, he was told there was a two-month waiting list. 

What saved him was something unexpected: a phone call.

Read more at Searchlight New Mexico.

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