The father of a man charged in connection to a stabbing on Thursday near University Town Center says he couldn’t get help for his son because of what he describes as a serious gap in the mental health laws.
Odie Miller Senior spoke to NBC 7 on Friday, a day after his 20-year-old son, Odie Miller Jr., was arrested following a random stabbing that took place at a park near the UTC mall.
While he said he doesn’t know if his son was involved in the stabbing, the father said he does know he’s seen his son’s mental health decline over the past year.
“I was actually told that something like this would actually have to happen before he got help,” Odie Miller said.
Miller said his son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and depression at 12 years old. Before he turned 18, he was routinely seeing doctors and taking medication.
The problem happened, Miller said, when his son turned 18. The law considers him an adult and not a dependent, so Miller can’t intervene to make decisions on behalf of his son.
To have authoritative power over his son, Odie Miller Jr. would have to sign paperwork establishing his father as his legal guardian. Or, his father could seek that designation through the legal system – something Odie Miller Sr. says is too costly.
The father said he ended up having to press charges against his son.
“At the end of last year, he came after me and I ended up having to press charges trying to get him some help,” Miller said.
Miller said there’s a gap in the law, which doesn’t allow him to help his son, such as enrolling him in a mental health program or ensuring he takes his medication.
“The problem is that I can’t step in as a parent and make decisions for him because he’s now of age,” Miller said. “I know it’s important for him to have his rights, but there’s always been a concern that he wouldn’t be able to manage himself and that he wouldn’t be able to make any decisions for himself. And now that he needs help, I can’t help him.”