Cleveland State professor brings attention to mental health of kids with incarcerated parents

Posted at 9:12 AM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-31 09:12:44-04

There are more than two million people in state prisons across the country, and while they’re away, their families suffer.

Dr. Dekota King-White professor at Cleveland State University and therapist trying to bring attention to the problem, while promoting mental health help for kids like Shantel Sailor.

“A lot of people don’t know how it actually feels, growing up for me, it was hard,” Sailor said.

RELATEDCleveland man who spent 15 years behind bars for a crime he didn't commit gets taste of freedom

When Sailor was 2-years old, her father RuEl Sailor was sent to prison.

“It used to be nights where I would just cry. I just really needed someone to talk to about my feelings,” she said.

Now, Sailor is 17 years old, and her dad was exonerated just last month. He’s home now, but the damage is still there

“The kids are the most forgotten about,” RuEl Sailor said.

That’s why Dr. King-White wrote the book "Oh No, When A Parent Goes Away.”

“I think again it goes back to mental health and us addressing how the incarceration has impacted the child,” Dr. King-White said.

The book tells the story of a little boy whose father just went away to prison. While following that narrative, it gives kids coping strategies to deal with abandonment and loss and even provides a journal for them to jot down their feelings.

“I definitely wanted to be able to have something that kids could relate to,” Dr. King-White said.

She wants to get the book inside all local schools here in Northeast Ohio as well as prisons and jail systems across the state.