By Danielle Sanzone, Troy/The Record
RENSSELAER >> A 26-year-old Rensselaer man with mental disabilities who has been detained for trespassing on White House property was trying to reach out to the country’s leader for help, according to the man’s mother.
Jeffrey Grossman, a Chatham High School graduate, was apprehended by the U.S. Secret Service last Thursday when he successfully climbed over the White House fence. He was wearing a Pokemon-themed shirt and hat, and carried a Pikachu doll from the Pokemon card game and cartoon.
As of Monday afternoon, Grossman was in observation at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C., said Secret Service spokeswoman Nicole Mainor, noting that Grossman has not yet been charged with anything related to the incident.
Grossman’s mother, Cathy, traveled down to D.C. to visit her son and get an update of what happened, but she was not allowed to see her son.
It was her understanding that Grossman went to an out-of-state hospital to admit himself for mental health treatment but was unable to due to his healthcare coverage. When he asked about it further, he was told that was how the healthcare system is set up and he should talk with the president about it. He then traveled to Washington, D.C.
“I was informed that, when he was apprehended, he told security that he had come to talk with the president about his health care program,” his mother, a local pharmacist, said.
Grossman, a graduate of the College of Saint Rose in Albany, was labeled as mentally disabled by the state of New York earlier this year, according to his mother.
“We have to address our mental health system. It has programs for people under 18 and for our seniors but there is nothing for young adults who can function if they have medication, like my son,” said Grossman.
She said her son was court-mandated for a time to take his medication. During that time, he finished his Bachelor of Science degree in business at The College of St. Rose. He got his degree this past spring. Grossman started feeling the affects of mental illness in his early 20s, when he was a senior in college and was unable to finish his degree at that time.
The period between 17 and 24 within a lifespan is generally a high-risk time when many psychiatric conditions as well as issues with alcohol and substance abuse can emerge for the first time, said Dr. Dolores Cimini, the assistant director for prevention and program evaluation at the UAlbany Counseling Center. The reason for this is not entirely known but it could be due to factors like brain development, moving away from home and increased pressures with school and a career.
In Grossman’s case, he was taking medications but then felt he did not need them anymore since he was feeling better, due to taking them.
“In some cases — not all — a person may decide not to take their medication anymore when they feel better since they may believe they no longer need it,” said Cimini. She added, “It is a challenge to provide enough services for people who need these services and it can be very difficult for people to access the services as quickly as they need it. Certainly, there are many people working hard to adjust issues related to mental health problems in young people but we really need more support through grants to continue our research to continue to look at how to help this vulnerable population. Youths 17 to 24 are often not paid attention to as much as they can be.”
Originally from Nassau, Grossman last lived locally in Rensselaer.
“I want something positive to come from this,” Grossman’s mother said. “I want people to know there are mental health issues out there. I’m hoping for the best. And I hope that maybe now he will get some long-term help.”
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