America, we have a mental health problem!

Mental Health Justice is young. We launched only six months ago. The amazing news is that we are the United States' fastest growing grassroots mental health organization. We now have nearly 21,000 members, every day between 6,000 to 10,000 of you are taking an active role in sharing your story or commenting on others stories, our posts have reached nearly two million people in the United States, and we have members across the globe from the United Kingdom to Mexico. 

The bad news is that our six months of existence, we have gotten hard look at the incredible dysfunction that is our nation's mental health system­––harsh stigma and judgment, high suicide rates, lack of access to basic services, exploitation and corrupt practices toward the mentally ill. Perhaps the most egregious misdeed against the mentally ill is our treatment by law enforcement. Now, a new study by the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center shows that the mentally ill are sixteen times more likely to die at the hands of police than others.

“If this were any other medical condition, people would be up in arms,” Snook said. “What we need to do is treat the person before the police are ever called. This is a mental illness, but we respond by calling the police and arresting a person.”
— John Snook, Executive Director Treatment Advocacy Center

This doesn't mean society doesn't have a choice. On one hand there is the brutal and murderous treatment by police of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man with schizophrenia, who was beaten by Fullerton, CA police officers four years ago. On the other hand there is Crisis Intervention Training or the Memphis Model of dealing with crisis situations. The difference is understanding, calm and quality training as opposed to the status quo. Here is a great article from The Atlantic discussing the issue.

 Dolores Sanchez at Kelly Corner, Fullerton, CA. The corner is the site of the death of Kelly at the hands of Fullerton Police.

Dolores Sanchez at Kelly Corner, Fullerton, CA. The corner is the site of the death of Kelly at the hands of Fullerton Police.

America we have big problem­. That much is clear. In a civilized society mental illness is not a reason to judge or stigmatize anyone much less arrest or kill them. The reason mental health justice is here is to create a forum to discuss and act on the issues that affect our mental health community. So if you're discouraged–don't be. We're fighting back; we will overcome!

Mental Health Justice. No stigma. No judgment. Everyone is welcome.

Dolores.