True Child Within is an educational documentary being developed for families, professionals and the general public about the issues that surround pediatric bipolar disorder. Its purpose is to shed light on a poorly understood and stigmatizing pediatric mental illness, which is being diagnosed more than ever before. Through education, early diagnosis and proper treatment, True Child Within will reduce the emotional and financial burdens to families and to our society as a whole. 

    When completed, True Child Within will document the real-life situations of families who have children diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder. While the circumstances of each family’s are different, the problems and issues they face are representative of those confronting so many other families dealing with this complex disorder.

    From these personal accounts, True Child Within launches into a deeper examination of the issues through interviews with top experts in the field of pediatric bipolar disorder. These issues include:

difficulties in obtaining a diagnosis and problems caused by misdiagnosis

high incidence of co-morbid illnesses complicating treatment

behavioral problems at school and districts unable to develop appropriate educational settings

emotional strains and financial hardships faced within families

weight gain, cognitive impairment and serious side-effects caused by medical treatments

suicide

lack of insurance coverage for mental illness and increasing number of families unable to afford coverage

intense shortage of medical professionals trained and qualified to offer treatment.

True Child Within offers promising solutions, from the most recent advances in brain and cognitive research, to new treatments that are proving to be highly effective. While there is still much to be learned, it is well known that early diagnosis and proper treatment offer the best chance of minimizing the costs to children, their families and society.

BACKGROUND

    Video producer David Barker, creator and director of True Child Within, is a parent of a 16-year-old boy who was diagnosed with the disorder at five years of age. Four years later, Barker formed a Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) support group for parents to share strategies for success and reduce the isolation and stress of parenting a child with pediatric bipolar disorder.

The documentary was initially intended to be a half-hour video that featured parent interviews and was directed to other parents who lacked access to support groups. But soon after conducting the initial interviews, it became apparent that there was a greater need to speak to a wider audience. Many media stories have featured the more sensational aspects and explosive behavior associated with pediatric bipolar disorder, often increasing the stigma attached and painting a confusing portrait of these children. At the same time, unknown to the general public the medical and educational communities suffered from a basic lack of knowledge about the disorder; ironically, the same experts who parents were desperately turning to for answers, and from whom parents were receiving little help.

And early short promotional video, Beyond Nuclear, was edited from the existing footage, which consisted mostly of interviews with parents. That early work has been updated, interviews with medical and research experts gathered slowly over the past four years, and given the new title, True Child Within.

The project so far has been the result of volunteer efforts and individual donations. But the need has never been greater to complete a documentary that educates broadly and explores deeply the complex nature of this disorder. Nor has there been a time better to distribute to a national audience. True Child Within is a powerful and important work that sheds light and hope on a poorly understood and much maligned mental illness. The ultimate cost to families, our communities, our schools and to our future lies in discovering the True Child Within.

    If you are interested in supporting this important documentary, or would like more information, please email True Child Within at david@truechildwithin.org