Blake Andrew Owen Endowment for Mental Health

I never dreamed that mental illness would touch my beautiful family of 5 healthy children.  I had always prayed that God would help me and their Dad to raise them to adulthood in one piece with all limbs attached.  Never did it even occur to me that our youngest, closest and most amazing son Blake would become addicted to a prescription medication that would rewire and destroy his brain. For a year, we watched him descend into a mental hell where he was depressed, anxious, headaches, cloudiness, nausea, couldn’t think or process, couldn’t sleep and couldn’t navigate the professional successes that he had earned in the previous 5 years. (He had even been North America Salesman of the Year in his division at IBM.)   And this was our son who had prevented two of his friends from dying by suicide and was always helping others.

Blake successfully withdrew from the physical prescription drug dependencies, but he never recovered mentally.  We continually searched for knowledgeable Doctors, experienced therapists, vitamins, diets, in-patient and out-patient programs, and a hit-or -miss series of prescription drugs – never knowing for weeks on end which ones (if any) would help Blake or relieve him of his intense suffering.  And we had to repeatedly document his history with each new medical professional.  It was a stressful and heartbreaking year.

And then the unimaginable:  Blake died by suicide.  The pain, agony and grief our entire family has endured in the past year and a half is indescribable.  After a year, I felt that we had to honor Blake’s legacy and focus on helping others in mental desperation (regardless of the cause).  Despite our research and work with Blake, we had not found a one-stop-shop for treating emergency mental health issues.

It was by chance that I saw an article on the Dell Children’s Mental Health Unit and quickly toured the new facility.  And the rest is history.  I discovered that this leading-edge Mental Health Unit is one of the few ‘one-stop-shops’ in the country where desperate and mentally ill children/teens can be treated by an integrated team of Professionals in one family-friendly facility.  With multiple funds that had been given in Blake’s name, we dedicated the Blake Andrew Owen Endowment.  We had a wonderful dedication ceremony where our other children, grandchildren and friends could see Blake’s name on the Butterfly Wall; we sat on Blake’s bench in the Healing Garden, an outdoor paradise for healing mentally troubled souls of children at risk. It was an afternoon that our family will never forget.  And we will always be grateful that Blake has been memorialized in perpetuity through the growing funds that will make a difference for children who will live and love as a result of the help received at this unique haven.  Though it is too late for Blake, I KNOW he is happy that we are helping others work toward mental wellness right here in Central Texas.

I think the plaque on Blake’s bench says it all: “May all who rest here find peace and healing.”  – in honor of Blake Andrew Owen.  And this is just the beginning…

Karen Owen

*  If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, there’s help. Please contact the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team at 512-472-4357 or call 9-1-1 and ask for a Mental Health Officer.

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