The risk of being in crisis* for young BIPOC is at an all-time high. Interactions with emergency systems, like emergency departments or police, are risky to say the least. Even practices in emergency mental health care can be racist and unsafe; BIPOC are often over-diagnosed with mental health issues and experience lower quality of care.
What would you do?
Police Are Not Mental Health Experts
And yet, police are often called to respond to Brown and Black people experiencing mental health crises. Injuries and deaths such as the murders of Miles Hall, Kayla Moore, and Walter Wallace, Jr. – all Black and all experiencing mental health crises at the time of their murder by police – highlight police violence in response to mental health crises. Mental health crises should not be criminalized.** Yet, many counties still deploy police to address 911 calls for a mental health or substance abuse crisis even though they aren’t appropriate responders.
Some cities are getting creative, recruiting mental health experts and volunteers to respond to mental health crises instead of police. This is where we come in because input from young adults on imagining these programs is essential.
*A mental health crisis is when a person’s emotional or mental state puts them or someone else in danger. It prevents them from being able to care for themselves or to function effectively in a community.
**Mental health and addiction are some of the only health issues that we criminalize in the United States. It is estimated that 900,000 people with mental illness end up in jails every year.
How are you feeling after reading this?
At least 22% of deaths due to use of lethal force by law enforcement are mental health-related. [source]
Nearly 25% of fatal police encounters follow a response to disruptive behavior tied to an individual’s mental health and/or substance use disorder. [source]
Mental health-related emergency visits for children have been on the rise. [source]
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Explore Related Action Area
Continue your engagement by learning more about and taking action on related issues.
Crisis response & policing, the school-to-prison pipeline, intergenerational trauma and other inequitable conditions.
The mental health workforce needs more diversity and training on cultural humility.
Many counties deploy police for a mental health crisis even though they aren’t appropriate responders.
BIPOC students face unequal disciplinary action in schools.
Racial justice is dependent on healing.
Rooted in indigenous practices, restorative justice focuses on building relationships.