The State of Mental Health

JACK NICHOLSON IN "THE SHINING"

Every time we hear of another mass shooting in public venues like the show, mall, school or work where people are killed or injured, we fear if not for the grace of
God it could’ve been me. And, usually these killings are by a mentally deranged person, usually male.  It’s sad!  The state of mental health in this country is terrible.  It’s very difficult for the mentally ill to get help.

Unfortunately, in the 1960s the mental health industry moved away from inpatient institutionalization to community based mental health facilities through federal funding known as the Community Mental Health Act (CMHA) of 1963. I don’t think its working too well and it should be reconsidered.  The states were eager to get rid of the state mental health hospitals because they were expensive to run.  In my area we had 3 mental health hospitals and various hospitals who admitted the mentally ill but that’s not the case since the CMHA Act.

Now, we see the mentally ill downtown roaming the streets or living under bridges and they are scary.  I observed a Black mentally ill man directing 5 o’clock traffic in the heart of downtown.  He was dressed in army fatigues.  As we were standing at the crowded bus stop, he walks up to an older, tall and distinguished white man in a suite and gives him a nose to nose salute and walks away.  The white man was cool and calm never made a move or said anything.  I was glad to know my car would be fixed the next day and I don’t have to witness such craziness up close.
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We need to address mental health in this country.  Usually, someone knows the person is crazy before they go and commit a mass murder.  Are these people hands tied to do anything?  Like the parents who tried to get help for their 18 year old son and the facility put them off.  Within days, this 18 year old stabbed his twin brothers killing one of them.  I had a friend whose boyfriend had mental issues.  She and his sister took him to a mental health facility and they didn’t want to admit him as an inpatient.  The women knew he was in a bad way so they sneaked out and left him there.  Later that night, the hospital gave him a cab to get home and he went to a bar and tried to throw the junk box across the room.  He was arrested and place in the county jail where they eventually sent him to a mental health facility.
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I know the mentally ill have rights but don’t we have rights too!

Black Folks Don’t .. Commit Suicide

I Don’t Agree  I know someone that was only 25 years old, beautiful woman,  with 2 children and one Sunday morning she took her own life with a gun.  They discovered there were no knives in the house because she had tried before with a knife and they were removed from the house. So we do commit suicide.

Cradle to Prison Pipeline – Children Born into Pipeline 2

Frankie

I watched the flow of children through my courtroom. But it took some time for

me to actually understand the interplay (complicity, if you will) of two primary feeders

into the Pipeline: the juvenile justice system and the child welfare system. Let me

tell you about Frankie who first came before me at the age of 10 (now presumed to

have the capacity to commit a crime). He was charged with Assault 4 (a misdemeanor).

Frankie was born into the child welfare system. Removed from his mother at birth,

Frankie spent his first eight years moving from foster home to foster home, getting

angrier and more depressed. His angry outbursts landed him in a “therapeutic foster

home” placement for kids with behavioral problems. Of course once he was placed,

he continued to demonstrate his behavioral issues. He hit staff. The police were

called. He was arrested and charges were filed. It is clear that the therapeutic foster

home is using the courts to “enforce the rules” and provide much needed respite

care. But this created a criminal record for Frankie. Over the next five years, this pattern

repeats itself several times. I last saw Frankie six months ago. He presented on two

counts of Robbery 2 (felony charges). His lengthy criminal history (created from his

behavior in placement) counts to increase his score for the purpose of sentencing.

Frankie was facing 206–258 weeks in juvenile state “prison.” By the time he is

released, Frankie will be almost 18. He has literally been moved through the

Pipeline from the cradlenext stop, the adult prison system.

–Chief Judge Patricia Clark of the Juvenile

Division of King County Superior Court, Seattle, Washington

A Black boy born in 2001 has a 1 in 3 chance of going to prison in his
lifetime; a Latino boy a 1 in 6 chance; and a White boy a 1 in 17 chance.

Cradle to Prison Pipeline

This is excerpts from the Children’s Defense Fund report “America’s Cradle to Prison Pipeline Report” that documents the intersection of poverty and race that puts Black boys at one to three lifetime risk of going to prison.  Tens of thousands are sucked into the pipeline every year.

My blog will be dedicated to dispersing this information over the next month in digestible chunks.

“It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.”

– attributed to Frederick Douglass

Children Born into the Pipeline 1

Baby Eric

Eric came into the world on April 26, 2004, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and already is in the Pipeline to Prison before taking a single step or uttering a word. In early May, when he was two weeks old, he was a tiny brown bundle lying across the lap of his 19-year-old mother in the Wynton Terrace housing project on the north side of the city. She was staying temporarily in a unit rented by one of her sisters because the electricity and gas had been turned off in her aunt’s house, where she had gone with Eric and his brother, 19-month-old Tae, when she left the hospital. She doesn’t have a phone or child care or access to a car so “it’s kind of hard to do anything.” The closest store is ten blocks away. She said she would like to finish high school and get a job. She liked school but “I had a lot of problems. I was running away all the time. I wasn’t getting along with anybody,” she explained, describing ongoing fights between her and her siblings and her mother, who once called the police to take her to juvenile detention. She lived with the boys’ 26-year-old father until he punched her in the stomach when she was eight months pregnant with Eric. She called the police and he went to jail. “He didn’t get as much time as I thought because his lawyers said he had some kind of mental illness.” He does not have a job and has been in jail before.

At two weeks old, Eric should have all possible futures open to him in America, a culture that believes life outcome is determined by the individual alone. In reality, this infant boy already is not in the trajectory that leads to college or work; he’s at the beginning of the pathway to prison—or, if not incarceration, a life on the margins. If Eric is imprisoned 18 years from now, no one is likely to look at the risks he faced in his early years or the disadvantages of his childhood  circumstances. He will be another bad youth to be punished for his criminal acts. It will be too late then to think of what could have been done back when Eric lacked stimulation and proper nurturing at two weeks old or when he began having behavioral or emotional problems at school or when he fell behind, got suspended and dropped out, or when he received little positive attention or guidance from the adults in his community. It will be too late then to realize that interventions known to make a difference might well have neutralized the risks and put him on the path to a productive life.

Prayer warriors – pray for our boys!

He so crazy… Dave Chappelle

Have you ever wondered what happen with Dave Chappelle the Comedian?  You know the Black man who turned down $50 million dollars from Comedy Central and rushed toAfrica. 

You know, if the network offered him $50 million dollars it makes you wonder what they would want next from Dave.  His skits were often on the racy side.  The kind of skits that I would hear young Black teens laughing so hard they can hardly breathe. I had to watch out of curiosity.  Some skits were so close to the line of insultingly stereo-typical that I had to wonder if he was turning into someone who wants to constantly shock you until someone says they had enough and held a public protest.  But, it turns out that Chappelle himself stopped the madness.

I am a bit confused about what happened next.  I assumed as a skilled comedian, he would continue to provide entertainment.   So, when I heard he was performing stand up comedy, I wasn’t surprised.  The show July 23rd in Seminole Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, FL, where Chappelle stood on stage for the entire show, texting on his phone and sighing the whole time.  Then the following Monday,  he went on a San Francisco radio show and explained he was in shock at the audience filming him with their phones and hurling obscenities.  Is this a sensitive Chappelle or plain bipolar?

That’s what I’m thinking, Dave has issues.  Some folks in the entertainment industry have or been know to have mental health issues.  As Ned Beatty, the actor, once said, “I’ve had this problem since I was in my 20s. They don’t call it manic depression anymore. They call it a bipolar disorder, and I’m a Type 2” (1998).  He explained how it didn’t interfere with his career but there are those who didn’t fair so well. Lois Lanefor one, Margo Kidder, of Superman fame suffered from bipolar.  Her odd behavior has been documented.  And, we can’t forget Martin Lawrence strange behavior that had everyone whispering about his mental health state.  The term “that nigga so crazy” may mean just that!!  We still love ya.