LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — A Lafayette woman is asking for the community’s help in getting her friend proper mental health treatment — a situation that remains staggeringly difficult for many even under the best circumstances in Louisiana.

Samantha Watson and Kallie Champagne met as teenagers 10 years ago at a mental health facility and vowed to always be a source of support for each other. A decade later, they are still keeping their promise to one another.

“We’ve been hanging out ever since,” said Watson.

Over the years, they both supported each other through life’s traumatic events. However, the heavy load of Champagne’s circumstances became too much to bear. Now, Watson says she is desperate to get Champagne help before it’s too late.

Watson has set up a GoFundMe account to help raise money to send Champagne to a long-term mental health treatment facility. Their goal is to raise $20,000. As of Jan. 27, they’ve raised close to $3,000.

“It’s a crime that a price tag has been put on my best friend’s life,” stated Watson on the GoFundMe page.

For Champagne, her memories of being abandoned as a child by her mother and losing her three brothers to drug addiction and suicide takes a heavy toll on her mental state. In the past, in order to get rid of the pain, she turned to self-harm.

“Just having your heart drop when you get that phone call or that message,” said Watson. “I just want her to be around to see herself the way the people see her.”

On the GoFundMe page, Watson tells Champagne’s harrowing story:

Kallie has struggled with self-harm, being suicidal and an eating disorder throughout my 10 years of knowing her, and before we met, too. She has never known a mother’s love, suffered sexual abuse at a young age, and addiction has destroyed her family in many different ways. She was the youngest of four children raised by a single father. Her three older brothers, (Lance, Seth, and Cody) struggled with addiction — constantly in and out of rehab or jail.

Lance was murdered and his murderer is a free man today after serving only two years in jail. A year after Lance died, Kallie’s father found Seth in their backyard — he had taken his own life. After losing her last living brother, Cody, to addiction in 2021, she has became an only child. All of this trama and great loss before 24 years old …

…After staying impatient at nearly every mental hospital in Louisiana that accepts Medicaid, attending an intensive outpatient program, going to private therapy for years, and cycling through several different medication combinations, Kallie wants to try an in-state long-term facility. She has literally fought for her life for so long and continues to fight. Money is her barrier to quality mental health treatment, as it is for so many people. Please help in whatever way you can to save her life.

Samantha Watson, GoFundMe page

Champagne says she’s tried several treatment options, including inpatient programs, but those programs only helped to stabilize her for a short period of time.

“Most places I have been to only kept me five to eight days,” said Champagne.

“That’s not even enough time to let the medication get into your system and see how it affects you,” said Watson. “It’s a disservice.”

Kallie says no matter how hard the journey, she won’t give up. She says her most recent form of therapy, art therapy, has helped her the most. Art therapy allows her to face her struggles while doing what she loves to do, create.

“It reminds me of mostly all of the times I’ve been happy and healthy enough to create art and to express my feelings through art,” said Champagne.