Over the years and continually in our society the Police Departments across our country are challenged with how to handle those with mental disabilities. I have been discouraged over the years how throughout our nation individuals with mental health disabilities continue to be murdered by those who are members of the law enforcement agencies that are supposed to protect and defend its citizens. However, there are two sides to this coin. If a person is mentally unstable and/or on drugs and they decide in their altered state to "charge" a police officer, by aggressively running toward him or her, threatening to kill them, there is little to no chance that individual will survive the bullets that will enter into their body by the police officer. The police officer is going to protect him/herself from harm first. I understand that situation well. However, in other cases where the police officer kills an individual because he/she does not immediately respond to demands of the police officer, is unjust, unfair, and unconstitutional. It does not follow most of the police department's policies and procedures.
Please notice the videos below.
This first video is an example of ONE side of the coin, where a naked unharmed male charges the police officer, which gives the police officer no choice but to fatally shot the unarmed male.
The second side of the Coin is that communities around the country have been working with police officers to try to find a solution where those individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis, are NOT killed by the police. Please notice the video below that shows police officers responding to Crisis Intervention Training (CIT)
What can you do to help solve this problem in your community? Begin to work with the Police Department. See if you can be a part of the Crisis Intervention Training. Find out if officers are held accountable for this training by NOT killing a person who is having a mental breakdown. Find out how you can get involved. It takes us all to become advocates for each other.
Another thing needs to be mentioned also. Officers need to be allowed time to heal from the trauma they experience also. So, more and more police departments are offering mental health opportunities for care for their officers.
Law Enforcement Pathways to Mental Health: Secondary Traumatic Stress, Social Support, and Social Pressure
The mental health of law enforcement officers (LEO) is critical to the safety and well-being of the officers and the public they serve. However, LEO faces significant on-the-job stressors that undermine mental health, and there is a lot to be learned about when and how LEO seek and enter mental health services.
For many people, ambiguity exists at all of the steps, from identifying the signs of mental illness and the need for treatment, knowing how or where to access treatment, to understand that treatments are available and effective (Henderson et al. 2013). Not only do many individuals often fail to identify their mental health status, but they are often reticent to seek a diagnosis because of mental illness stigma and fear of discrimination. Often, a spouse or close family member identifies the treatment need and pressures their loved one into seeking treatment (Perry and Pescosolido 2015).
By Marti Hause and Ari Melber
Almost half of the people who die at the hands of police have some kind of disability, according to a new report, as officers are often drawn into emergencies where urgent care may be more appropriate than lethal force. The report, published by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, proposes that while police interactions with minorities draw increasing scrutiny, disability and health considerations are still neglected in media coverage and law enforcement policy. "Police have become the default responders to mental health calls," writes the authors, historian David Perry and disability expert Lawrence Carter-Long, who analyzed incidents from 2013 to 2015. They propose that "people with psychiatric disabilities" are presumed to be "dangerous to themselves and others" in police interactions.
Are mental illness cases increasing? Yes, and not just because of the pandemic. World Health Organization data shows mental illness was on the rise before COVID. Mental Health America notes that suicidal ideation among adults in the US has increased every year since 2011-2012. and an increasing number of young people are experiencing major depression. In 2015, nearly one in ten Idaho youth ages 12 - 17 experienced at least one major depressive episode. That figure has nearly doubled as of the 2022 report – an increase of more than 14,000 students.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), mental illnesses are commonplace, with nearly one in five adults in America living with a serious mental illness. One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14, with three-quarters by the age of 24. An estimated 17.3 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. An estimated 31.1% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some time in their lives. Approximately 7.9 million adults have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.
According to a 2017 Centers for Disease Control report, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall in the United States, claiming the lives of nearly 47,000 people. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. There were more than twice as many suicides in the United States as there were homicides.
A 2012 study from the Institute of Medicine found that nearly one in five older Americans has one or more mental health or substance use conditions. According to 2018 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and reported by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, adults in the 75-84 and 85 and older age groups are among those with the highest rates of, suicide.
Racism, historic adversity, and race-based exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources translate into socioeconomic disparities that have a direct link to mental health issues. While most ethnic and racial minority groups have similar – or in some cases, fewer – mental health disorders than whites, ethnic and racial minorities often bear a disproportionately higher degree of disability resulting from mental health disorders.
For LGBTQ people, stigma and discrimination – part of what is known as “minority stress” – can take a terrible toll on mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, LGBTQ individuals are more than twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to suffer from a mental health condition such as major depression or generalized anxiety disorder, and LQBTQ people are at higher risk than the general population for suicidal thoughts and attempts.
LGBTQ youth are particularly at risk for negative mental health outcomes. The CDC reports that LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth, and are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide.
According to SAMHSA’s 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an estimated 139.8 million Americans aged 12 or older were current alcohol users, 67.1 million were binge drinkers in the past month, and 16.6 million were heavy drinkers in the past month. In 2018, approximately 1.9 million people aged 12 or older used methamphetamine in the past year, and an estimated 2.0 million people aged 12 or older had an opioid use disorder, which corresponds to 0.7 percent of the population.