Motherhood and Mental Health: Should Mothers Be Evaluated?

The Trial of a Mother Who Killed Her Children Brings Lots of Issues to the Table?

Jan 22, 2007
Recently, the trial of a mother of 3 has thrown many topics back in the spotlight. In October 2005, LaShaun Harris from San Francisco, California pleaded not guilty by insanity for throwing her 3 children into San Francisco Bay where they all died. LaShaun’s mother had once warned a social worker that her daughter would hurt her children and the social worker did not believe her. This brings topics such as the child services system, mental health and motherhood, and the question of should someone have noticed that these children were in danger before this tragic event happened?LaShaun’s children were ages 6, 2, and 16 months and she described in her interview that they all struggled as they were stripped of their clothing and thrown over into the water, except for the youngest. He laughed as though it was a game. How could a mother do this to her children? I think that questionable parents should not be allowed to leave the hospital until they have had a mental evaluation. You get a drug test, and STD test, and many others ,so why not test ones mental health as well? We all know that motherhood changes your personality and many other aspects of your life. We have all been there. Walking the floor at three in the morning with a screaming newborn asking ourselves “What did I do to deserve this?”. However, when a mother has a prior mental health condition, her brain may not be able the stresses of being a mother. Using LaShaun as an example again, she was placed in psychiatric hospitals six times between February 2004 and August 2005. She was obviously not a mentally healthy person but yet she was allowed to continue caring for her children ,even when she could not take care of herself. She also had been diagnosed as schizophrenia and was borderline mentally retarded.

Post-partum depression is another highly debated topic that can apply here. Woman who give birth are at risk of suffering post-partum regardless of their mental health history. If it goes untreated, it may just go away on it’s own or it may get worse. Child Services was involved at one point with the mother. LeShaun’s mother actually warned the social worker that her daughter would hurt her children and the social worker did not believe her. When any claim of a parent or guardian possibly causing harm to a child is made, it should be thoroughly investigated. This past year Child Services has come under heavy fire for not keeping track of foster children and not following up on claims. This needs to be addressed by America and we should demand it be changed.

LeShaun “thought” that she was sending her children to heaven. Perhaps this was not her fault directly, but a few other people’s fault as well. Regardless, these children are still dead. Maybe a mental health test prior to her taking these children home may have saved their lives. What is your take on the subject?