According to Talkspace, the unhoused people in the U.S. who have mental illnesses are treated differently. So, what should we do when we encounter a community member who has a mental health issue?
Most of us usually look the other way when we encounter a person who has a mental health illness because of fear or because we feel powerless. If we reach out, we can only assist by calling 911 or the police. In such an instance, the mentally ill individual will not receive the treatment they deserve; they will be treated as criminals. A considerable number of individuals have been criminalized because they were mentally ill. At times, an encounter with the police may be fatal. Police officers may also murder people who are mentally ill as compared to normal individuals.
To assist such individuals, the Cervantes’ Group went ahead to partner with different community organizations to come up with a STAR (Support Team Assistance Response) program. When someone calls 911 about an individual who is homeless and mentally ill, the program will dispatch a van that will take the affected party to a medic instead of a police officer. They can get the therapy they need from organizations such as Talkspace.
STAR has inspired many people amid the black-led uprisings against police abuse and systematic racism. For Cervantes, STAR aims to defund the police and ensure that enough money is directed towards the community’s wellbeing. Ensuring there is a treatment-based approach helps to improve public safety.
Mentally Ill People Lack Long-Term Support
Mental illnesses have been criminalized for a long time in the United States. Also, investment in basic mental health care is not as significant. A considerable number of mentally ill patients lack access to the psychological care they need to get better.
Some people are unable to access mental health care since it is expensive even when they have insurance. Some surveys have been carried out, and a large number of people acknowledged they couldn’t afford therapy. The Americans of color are primarily affected by such issues, and they include Black and indigenous Americans. The main issue is systematic racism, which comes about because of the historical trauma arising from colonialism and slavery.
Because of community disinvestment and structural racism, prisons have become an inpatient for mentally ill people. In this case, the main issue is that mentally ill people cannot get the help they need while in prison. As a prisoner, you will lack enough food, undergo sexual abuse, medical care, and undergo solitary confinement, leading to trauma. While experiencing such issues, you can’t heal. According to Talkspace, a large number of inmates already have PTSD, among other mental illnesses.
Mentally ill individuals are vulnerable. To treat such individuals, public policies should be changed and the current mindset by society.
Myths in the Society
Our society is not equal since there is class exploitation, racism, homophobia, and sexism. The beliefs that arise from such issues affect the formulation of policies, our emotional reactions, and how we interact and see other individuals.
Most of us are taught that mentally ill people are dangerous, and they are a threat to our safety, especially if they are psychotic. According to Cervantes, such narratives should change.