JULY 2023 - Today, July 16, 2023, marks the one-year anniversary of 988, the new 3-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Its existence is the result of years of advocacy efforts by numerous individuals and organizations, many of which the Foundation is honored to partner with and support. In a nation where mental illness continues to be criminalized, 988 offers a promising opportunity to ensure people in mental health crises receive care rather than punishment and incarceration.
JUNE 2023 - I write this under the haze of poor air quality impacting Canada and much of the United States. As I do so, I cannot help but think about climate change and its impact on our work to decriminalize mental illness. In late May, the World Health Organization issued an urgent call for global climate action to create resilient and sustainable health systems. How do we heed this call? And, importantly, what impact does this call have on our work to decriminalize mental illness?
We all exist within a built environment. Access to mental health care depends on the stability of the built environment, which – already inadequate to ensure access to care – is being further challenged by climate change.
How do we begin to address these issues?
MAY 2023 - The Sozosei Foundation launched in the months before the pandemic hit. I took my seat as the inaugural Executive Director in the pandemic’s early days – June 2020. Our focus then, as it is now, is on the decriminalization of mental illness. To us, this focus has evolved into a clear goal: to increase access to mental health care in communities so as to eliminate the inappropriate use of jails and prisons for the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
The mental health impacts of COVID have validated the importance of our goal, and, as many of you know, we are spending much of this year asking ourselves how and if our work is getting us any closer to the decriminalization of mental illness. With this newsletter, I am happy to share a bit of what we are learning so far, including: the challenge of measuring impact, the importance of staying focused while working on a complex issue, the role of convenings in meeting our goal, and the power of collaboration. I’ll take these in order.
The Sozosei Foundation launched its Resilient Communities Program (RCP) in the summer of 2020 at the request of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. (OAPI), with the intent of evolving the company’s longstanding commitment to philanthropy. The goal of the program was to refine the company’s philanthropic commitment by designing guidelines and priorities to support diverse, under-resourced communities where the company has a presence. Over the two years of its grantmaking, the program provided over $1 million in grants and served over 177,000 people across six target communities.
When COVID-19 swept across the United States in the Spring of 2020, Sozosei had just for- malized its governance structure and was in the midst of a national search for its inaugural Ex- ecutive Director. Simultaneously, Sozosei – with leadership from its Board of Directors – moved swiftly to address the immediate needs of patients, healthcare workers, and families im- pacted by COVID-19.
The Foundation recently kicked off a series of Global Solution Labs to surface more knowledge and perspectives about how to create a future where mental illness is not treated as a crime. Over 50 multi-disciplinary “Solutionists” gathered on May 7, 2021, to take on the ambitious task of identifying the top solutions to move the needle on the decriminalization of mental illness.
This collection of resources related to the decriminalization of mental illness has been submitted by our Grantee Partners and Sozosei Convening attendees. If you have a resource you would like us to add to this collection; please email [email protected].
The resources listed below are focused on research, policy, advocacy and litigation related to the decriminalization of mental illness. If you are looking for treatment options or ideas, we encourage you to visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) at https://nami.org/ or SMI Advisor at https://smiadviser.org/.
KFF is the independent source for health policy research, polling, and journalism. Our mission is to serve as a nonpartisan source of information for policymakers, the media, the health policy community, and the public.
County Funding Opportunities to Support Community Members Experiencing a Behavioral Health Crisis
The Services & Policy Research Program is a multidisciplinary team of behavioral health services and policy researchers in the Division of Child and Family Mental Health and Community Psychiatry within the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.
The Wilson Center for Science and Justice at Duke Law School has a mission of advancing criminal justice reform and civil rights through the application of interdisciplinary legal and scientific research.
Report: Program Evaluation of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) in NC and NY
Psychiatric advance directives are relatively new legal instruments that may be used to document a competent person’s specific instructions or preferences regarding future mental health treatment.
SMI Adviser’s “My Mental Health Crisis Plan” App Wins 2021 Mobile Web Award
A curated list of the top resources that support the mental health of the BIPOC community.
The 3 new reports:
This guide offers a list of the top 50 resources to support Black Men who are struggling with addiction or mental illness.
Live Another Day believes in equal access to life-saving mental health and substance use resources. This website provides extensive information on the best resources available.
NACo’s Behavioral Health Resource Page
Hosted by Stephanie Wittels Wachs, and featuring special correspondent Zak Williams, Call for Help looks at the promise and the perils of 988. The Call for Help podcast uncovers how the United States healthcare system failed in the beginning and continues to fail today, what crisis response currently looks like in the United States, and what it will take to fix our broken system. Available now wherever you get your podcasts.
Grantmaking: A County Strategy to Address Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Criminal Legal System – This toolkit outlines eight guiding principles to enhance equity in grantmaking and provides strategies, practical solutions and county examples aligned with each principle.
The recent implementation of 988 as a behavioral crisis hotline is a critical opportunity for improving crisis care across the United States. The bold vision for 988 is to offer individuals experiencing a mental health crisis a rapid entry into a coordinated crisis system and reduce reliance on 911 (and prevent a police response when it is not warranted). In this Open Forum, the authors suggest that mental health professionals have a role to play in educating their clients about when to use 988. Promoting 988 will also depend on answering key questions about what constitutes a crisis and how 988 is being implemented at a local level.
How to Transform the U.S. Mental Health System Evidence-Based Recommendations: This report provides recommendations to promote transformational change to improve the lives of the millions of Americans living with mental illness.
Removing Cops from Behavioral Health Crisis Calls: 'We Need to Change the Model:' NPR article on San Francisco’s police response to crisis calls and the CAHOOTS model.
This page features resources to help county leaders support the 988 transition and leverage this opportunity to expand access to behavioral health care for all community members.
Guidelines from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration outlining best practices for behavioral health crisis care.
Think Bigger Do Good Policy Series: Policy paper series from the Scattergood Foundation and its partners examining issues related to behavioral and mental health.
L.A. County moves to create new juvenile justice system focused on ‘care,’ not punishment: LA Times article about the creation of a new Department of Youth Development, November 2020.
Toronto moves forward on consultations to create a non-police mental health crisis response team.
Broadcast addressing the critical health needs of Americans through original digital content, and impactful local events.
A new poll conducted by Safer Cities shows that voters support creating a new agency of first responders, like emergency medical services or firefighters, to reroute some 911 calls away from armed police officers to medical professionals who are better situated to respond to mental health and homelessness related situations than armed police officers.
National Juvenile Justice Network webinar profiling youth voices.
Research from the Treatment Advocacy Center showing that individuals with mental illness tend to receive a more severe punishment than those without a mental illness.
Webpage for NCSC’s task force on decriminalizing mental illness.
Decriminalizing Mental Illness: A Cambridge University book on history, treatment and justice diversion, published December 2020.
Washington Post article comparing the likelihood of police shootings for people living with mental illness in mid-size towns versus those in large cities. Please note this article contains some graphic content.
Treat or Repeat: A State Survey of Serious Mental Illness, Major Crimes and Community Treatment
Authored by: Natalie Bonfine, Ph.D., Amy Blank Wilson, Ph.D., L.S.W., Mark R. Munetz, M.D. - A new approach is needed that focuses on addressing the multiple factors that contribute to justice involvement for this population. Although the authors’ proposed approach may be viewed as aspirational, they suggest that an integrated community-based behavioral health system—i.e., intercept 0—serve as the focal point for coordinating and integrating services for justice-involved people with serious mental illness.
Will Drug Legalization Leave Black People Behind? Marshall Project article on how racial disparities should be considered in discussions of drug decriminalization.
The Pandemic paused the school-to-prison pipeline: potential lessons learned. Research from The Lancet that investigates how COVID-19 may have paused the school to prison pipeline.
The Criminalization of Mental Illness: Crisis and Opportunity for the Justice System, Second Edition: Textbook by Slate, Buffington-Vollum, and Johnson about the failures of our justice system and potential solutions.
She’s breaking down’: Inmates at Bucks County jail decry treatment of suicidal woman with severe mental illness: Profile of inhumane conditions of confinement for woman with mental illness in PA, June 2020.
Road Runners: The Role and Impact of Law Enforcement in Transporting Individuals with Severe Mental Illness.
Review of the Literature on Jail Diversion Programs and Summary Recommendations for the Establishment of a Mental Health Court and Crisis Center within Douglas County, Kansas: Research from University of Kansas School of Welfare, 2015.
Reimagining Response to Vulnerable Populations in Crisis: A framework for reimagining crisis response from Abt Associates.
Prisoner Release Raises Concerns About Their Health During Pandemic - New Jersey is set to release 2,300 people in prison; about half will have mental health issues, November 2020.
I’ve had public mental health outbursts like Walter Wallace Jr. I’m alive because I’m white. Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed sharing an author’s reflection on the role of race in decriminalizing mental illness.
One Mind Docu-Series: Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System
New Federal Study Shows Half of Incarcerated Veterans Have Mental Disorder: Article discussing a study by Bureau of Justice Statistics of 2011-12 data about veterans.
Misunderstood and Mistreated: How Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Experience the Texas Criminal Justice System: Report that details the failures of multiple systems to respond to individuals with IDD, October 2020.
Report from the Middlesex County Restoration Committee in MA assessing the implementation of a diversion restoration center for individuals with mental illness and substance abuse in the County.
MHA Position Statement 52: MHAs statement in support of maximum diversion of persons with serious mental illness from the criminal justice system.
Mental Health Dockets in VA: Specialized court dockets within the existing court structure utilizing voluntary participation by individuals with behavioral health issues.
Mens Rea Roundtable: Mental Illness, Diminished Capacity & the Flight from Culpability in Arizona: Symposium on Mens Rea at Arizona State University, December 2020.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption: Personal memoir by Bryan Stevenson describing our broken criminal justice system.
Just and Well: Rethinking How States Approach Competency to Stand Trial: Council of State Government’s Justice Center’s research on competency hearings.
Article: I Am Not Sick I Don't Need Help: How to Help Someone with Mental Illness Accept Treatment
Fountain House: From Harm to Health offers a holistic and comprehensive framework to transform how we address mental health emergencies - from a reactive system driven by public safety goals and procedures, to a preventative, health-first approach that centers racial equity, lived experience, systemic challenges, and cultural competency.
Journal of Public Mental Health: An evaluation of Peerstar’s Forensic Peer Support program in Pennsylvania that showed it decreased recidivism.
A white paper by James Fouts explaining intercept 0 and a calling for cross systems training, February 2019.
Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill: This well-researched and highly critical examination of the state of our mental health system by the industry's most relentless critic presents a new and controversial explanation as to why--in spite of spending $147 billion annually--140,000 seriously mentally ill are homeless, 390,000 are incarcerated, and even educated, tenacious, and caring people can't get treatment for their mentally ill loved ones.
Report: Individuals With Serious Mental Illnesses in County Jails: A Survey of Jail Staff’s Perspectives Treatment Advocacy Center, July 2016
Improving New York City’s Responses To Individuals In Mental Health Crisis: Report detailing needed community-based supports and shifts in police practice, September 2019.
Report: Implementing Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Essential Elements, Building Blocks and Tips For Maximizing Results
Helping Mentally Ill People Break the Cycle of Jail and Homelessness: Description of the Thresholds jail linkage project in Chicago, IL.
Zoom Cast Series on SMI. Janet Hays, Executive Director of Healing Minds NOLA, along with Eric Smith (graduate of Judge Oscar Kazen's AOT program in Bexar County and now a graduate student and fierce advocate for people living with SMI) hosted important discussions re: all aspects of how to create a continuum of care for people living with (serious) mental illness - guests included Judge Steven Leifman, John Snook of Treatment Advocacy Center, Pete Earley, Dr. Xavier Amador, Dr. Drew, and Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, and many more.
2020 Zoom Cast Series - Focus on Serious Mental Illness: Series of seminars with legislators, authors, doctors and researchers on pathways to increase treatment and avoid homelessness and incarceration for individuals with mental illness.
Hanks Confirms 6 Active COVID-19 Cases at State Prison, Most at Psych Units: Article from the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism highlighting the plight of individuals with mental illness in the psychiatric unit of the prison who have not been convicted of a crime, November 2020.
The GAINS Center focuses on expanding access to services for people with mental and/or substance use disorders who come into contact with the adult criminal justice system.
Freethink: Should Police Respond to Mental Health Crises? This YouTube video exploring non-police and co-police responses to individuals with MI in crisis. Please note this video contains some graphic content.
Emptying the 'New Asylums': A Beds Capacity Model to Reduce Mental Illness Behind Bars Treatment Advocacy Center, January 2017.
The Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project (CMHP) comes to life in this PBS documentary, following a team of dedicated public servants working through the courts to steer people with mental illness — as their court cases hang in the balance — on a path from incarceration to recovery.
Report: Crisis Response Services for People with Mental Illnesses or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: A Review of the Literature on Police-based and Other First Response Models
Crisis Response as a Human Rights Flashpoint: Critical Elements of Community Support for Individuals Experiencing Significant Emotional Distress: A Health and Human Rights Journal article that makes a human rights-based case for supporting individuals with mental illness.
From Ted Bundy to Joel Rifkin, serial killers have fascinated Dr. Dorothy Otnow Lewis. This film from Oscar(R)-winning filmmaker Alex Gibney is a portrait of a woman willing to reach inside the darkest places of the criminal mind. Featuring Dr. Lewis' literary voice read by Laura Dern, the film reveals how she helped change the laws and the approach of death penalty lawyers.
The mission of Concordance is to dramatically reduce reincarceration rates by precisely and rigorously executing our holistic, integrated, evidence-informed re-entry model, focusing equally on process and art.
Academy Award ®-nominated filmmaker Steve James’ fascinating and complex portrait of contemporary Chicago delivers a deep, multifaceted look into the soul of a quintessentially American city, set against the backdrop of its history-making 2019 mayoral election, and the tumultuous 2020 summer of COVID-19 and social upheaval following the death of George Floyd.
Best Practices Guide to Crisis Response: A best practice guide for transforming community responses to mental health crises.
Set of slides that describe Oregon’s Crisis Assistance Helping Out on the Streets (CAHOOTS) program.
Behavioral Health Crisis Alternatives: Literature review and case studies from the Vera Institute of Justice analyzing responses to different crisis situations.
Four Decades of Addiction. Recovery is Possible!: Interview with Leo Petrilli, November 2020.
Webpage showcasing the work of the Abolition Disability Justice Collective, which promotes the creation of healthy communities to decriminalize mental illness.
Tomorrow Was Yesterday: A book that shares stories from 64 mothers of people with serious brain disorders across the USA, by Dede Moon Ranahan
In D.C., Sealing Your Criminal Record Can Be Harder Than Almost Anywhere Else: An article on the collateral consequences of criminal charges and the difficulties of expungement.
Fatal police shooting of Walter Wallace Jr. prompts heated overnight protests in West Philly: The 27-year-old man had a knife during a confrontation with police Monday afternoon. In the hours that followed, clashes erupted between police and protesters.
Ernie and Joe: Crisis Cops - Texas police officers Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro are putting compassionate policing practices into action. This documentary chronicles how these officers—both members of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit—use an innovative approach to policing to diffuse dangerous situations and divert people from jail into mental health treatment.
Cultivating a Workers' Paradise: Guardian article describing La Fageda, a non-profit working and housing initiative for individuals with mental illness, 2016
Violence, Victimization, and People with Mental Illness: Research on violence and mental illness summarized.
Beyond Do No Harm: This document was developed by a group of advocates, health practitioners, impacted community members, public health experts, and people working across social justice movements to inspire a recommitment to the caring intentions of health and public health professions.
Reforms to Avoid: Alternatives to Policing Based on Disability Justice and Reforms to Avoid
Co-Response Teams (CRT) are a collaboration between the NYPD and DOHMH. CRT is a pre- and post-crisis intervention.
Psychiatrist: America's 'Extremely Punitive' Prisons Make Mental Illness Worse: interview with Dr. Christine Montross.
Going, Going, Gone: Trends and Consequences of Eliminating State Psychiatric Beds reports the findings of a 2016 survey by the Office of Research and Public Affairs to determine how many state hospital beds remain staffed and in service in the United States
Information on "hard houses" and "soft houses" developed by and for the Intellectual and Developmental Disability Community.
Conference focuses on affordable housing for people with disabilities: Article describing conference held by Parents Empowered and Communities Enhanced, otherwise known as PEAC.
Guiding Principles on Use of Force: Research, field work, and national discussions on police use of force, especially in situations involving persons with mental illness and cases where subjects do not have firearms.
What Do Disruptive Behaviors Indicate? Information on how schools respond to disruptive behaviors.
In New Mexico, a bold experiment aims to take police out of the equation for mental health calls. In one of the most tangible shifts in public safety since last year’s killing of George Floyd spawned anti-police-brutality protests nationwide, New Mexico’s largest city has established a new category of first responder.
Sharing Hope: An African American Guide to Mental Health - Information on mental health for the BIPOC community.
10 Principles of Disability Justice. Sins Invalid is a disability justice based performance project that incubates and celebrates artists with disabilities, centralizing artists of color and LGBTQ / gender-variant artists as communities who have been historically marginalized.
On the Over-Valuation of Risk for People with Mental Illnesses: A resource on the over-valuation of risk.
Collection of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) Studies: Evidence for AOT. (SAMHSA has also recognized AOT as evidence-based treatment.)
Ocean Boulevard: a film shedding light on substance use disorder and mental illness.
We Must Decriminalize Mental Illness to Save Lives: Article by Patrick Kennedy and John Snook.
How do individuals with behavioral health conditions contribute to physical and total healthcare spending? Report by Milliman
The Distinction Between Mental and Physical Illness: R.E. Kendell on the artificial distinction between mental and physical illness.
Collaborative Family Healthcare Association (CFHA) supports healthcare professionals in integrating physical and behavioral health.
OneFifteen is an addiction treatment center in Dayton Ohio providing treatment services for drug and & alcohol addiction.
Judge Steven Leifman: My Choice For Most Important Advocate During 2020: Pete Earley's article on Judge Leifman
Trauma-Informed Juvenile Justice Diversion Fact Sheet: The impact the juvenile justice system has on youth and the trauma they experience.
The Judges’ and Psychiatrists’ Leadership Initiative (JPLI) aims to stimulate, support, and enhance efforts by judges and psychiatrists to improve judicial, community, and systemic responses to people with behavioral health needs involved in the justice system.
County officials representing urban counties at the 2019 Large Urban County Caucus (LUCC) Symposium in Miami-Dade County, Fla., toured a new facility that will offer a full continuum of care for justice-involved individuals with mental illnesses.
The concept for the Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery began when the county passed a general obligation bond program with $22 million in the public safety sector to create a diversion facility for justice-involved individuals, said Tim Coffey, project coordinator for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida.
The CEPP Announces Advancing Pretrial Policy and Research: A Project of the National Partnership for Pretrial Justice.
Peer Health Mentoring with Formerly Incarcerated Men: Peer Health Education Tool Kit from John Howard.
The mission of the Trevor Project is to end suicide among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning young people.
During the 2nd Annual Sozosei Summit to Decriminalize Mental Illness, in-person and virtual participants collaborated to create a visual representation of a future where mental illness is not a crime. Mural Arts Philadelphia designer, Nicole Medina, assembled these visual ideas into a mural that will be displayed in the City of Philadelphia in 2022. View the the final mural design by visiting the link below.
Behavioral Health Call Centers and 988 Implementation. A new NRI report highlights the experiences of 43 state Mental Health Agencies in working with state-funded Behavioral Health Crisis Call Centers as they prepare for the implementation of 988—the three-digit number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that must be live by July 16, 2022.
Revolving door of mental illness can lead to jail — but does it have to? Local mental health advocates talk about role of law enforcement.
The People’s Commission to Decriminalize Maryland was established in 2019 with the purpose of reducing the disparate impact of the justice system on Marylanders who have been historically targeted and marginalized by local and state criminal and juvenile laws based on their race, gender, disability, or socio-economic status.
The Lockdown Inside the Lockdown. COVID-19 and severe isolation have created a mental health crisis for incarcerated youth
Suicide Among Black Girls Is a Mental Health Crisis Hiding in Plain Sight. When Dionne Monsanto was pregnant, she decided that she wanted to find a name that means “blessing” for her daughter. Though Monsanto—a Black American—has no specific ties to South Africa, she chose the name Siwe, an adaptation of the Zulu name Busisiwe.
Data-Driven Justice: Disrupting the Cycle of Incarceration. Every year, about 11 million people move through America’s 3,100 local jails, many on low-level, non-violent misdemeanors. Many of the people in county and other local jails have behavioral health conditions that impact their quality of life, including mental illnesses and substance use disorders.
Stepping Up asks communities to come together to develop an action plan that can be used to achieve measurable impact in local criminal justice systems of all sizes across the country.
Words to Deeds: Changing the Paradigm for Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health. Since 2003, Words to Deeds has provided a unique forum that has evolved into a standard best practice for creating a true shift in the paradigm for criminal justice and mental health by fostering successful and ongoing collaboration among courts, criminal justice agencies, mental health professions, and governmental and nongovernmental organizations, with the aim of achieving substantial positive change in the way individuals with mental illness are treated within our communities.
The Confess Project has the first and largest organization committed to building a culture of mental health for young men of color, boys and their families. How? We focus on empowering frontline heroes and sheroesin Communities across America. More specifically, we train barbers to be mental health advocates.
The Austin Women Dispelling Stigma and Moving Mental Health Issues Forward. When Karen Ranus lost her mother to a terminal brain tumor, casseroles baked by her friends and neighbors appeared at her doorstep. Those same friends offered to mow her lawn and pick her children up from school. Ranus knew her community supported and cared for her family during a crisis. Fast-forward 17 months, when Ranus and her husband brought their daughter home from the hospital after a suicide attempt. There were no casseroles.
MCES's Crisis Intervention Specialist (CIS) Program has had a lot of firsts over the years. Here's one more -- their first CIS video.
When Mental Illness Becomes a Jail Sentence. Arrestees who are mentally incompetent to stand trial are supposed to be sent for treatment. But thousands are being warehoused in jails for months without a conviction.
Police and prison guards demand compliance. That only makes situations worse for people with serious mental illness in Pa. Use of force reports from Bucks County jail offer a glimpse into a criminal justice system unequipped to deal with people who may be having a crisis.
More Community, Less Confinement: This 50-state analysis explores how supervision violations impacted prison populations during—and prior to—the pandemic. The project was conducted in partnership with the Correctional Leaders Association with support from Arnold Ventures.
LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) is a systems-change initiative that uses both collective governance and new approaches to direct service. The goal is to reduce policies and practices that disproportionately criminalize low-income people and people of color with unmet behavioral health needs, problematic substance use, and homelessness.
Homeless Man Spent Over 800 Days in Rikers After Stealing Cold Medicine from Duane Reade. Blind in one eye and at risk of losing vision in the other, 58-year-old Reginald Randolph has spent much of the past three years in jail. Now he's on the verge of being sent to state prison for four more years.
Journal of Correctional Health Care: The only peer-reviewed correctional health care journal with coverage that includes empirical research, case studies, best practices, literature reviews and letters, plus NCCHC position statements.
Decoupling Crisis Response from Policing — A Step Toward Equitable Psychiatric Emergency Services. As young psychiatrists of color, we bear witness to the failings of the U.S. mental health emergency response system. We reluctantly counsel our patients to trust this system, though we’re fully aware that it may harm them rather than ensure their safety.
Will $ Billions Be Spent On Solutions Or Mental Health/Addiction Programs That Continue Failing? Two National Experts Say We’re At Tipping Point. True reform should begin by treating mental illnesses and substance use disorders as illnesses and not crimes.
PRN was the first example of a mental health “consumer-run” organization in Charlotte, NC. That is, the agency is operated and staffed by people that have been directly impacted by and involved with mental health services and systems.
National Guidelines for Behavioral Health Crisis Care - Best Practice Toolkit
As mobile mental health teams work to de-escalate crises, some warn their models still rely on police partnerships. In the wake of nationwide demonstrations against police brutality, there has been a surge in interest in making sure mental health providers, not law enforcement, are the ones to respond to a psychiatric crisis.
How Mental Illness Affects Police Shooting Fatalities. In 2015, the Washington Post conducted the first ongoing tally of officer-involved shooting deaths of the mentally ill. Nationwide, at least 25% of people who are shot and killed by police officers suffer from acute mental illness at the time of their death. People with untreated mental illness are 16 times more likely to be fatally shot during an encounter with police than people with their mental illnesses under control.
Decriminalizing Suicide: Saving Lives, Reducing Stigma. Suicide remains a criminal offense in at least 20 countries around the world, with some laws dating back up to 160 years ago. Criminalizing suicide doesn’t prevent people from acting on suicidal thoughts: it simply stops them from reaching out and seeking help in times of acute crisis.
The Miami Center for Mental Health and Recovery will provide a comprehensive system of care for individuals with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders who frequently cycle through the criminal justice and other acute care treatment systems. Combined with programs of research and education, the Center will serve as a model for facilities of this type throughout the nation.
Rethinking and Reducing the Role of Law Enforcement in Suicide Prevention Efforts: The almost daily news of people of color killed by police officers, along with the almost routine news of rising rates of anxiety and depression as the COVID-19 pandemic drags on necessitates a closer look at the role of policing in suicide prevention activities.
Slide Presentation: Alternatives to the Carceral State: How to Transform St. Louis’ Public Safety System
Police are often first responders to mental health crises, but tragedies are prompting change
The 9-8-8 Crisis Hotline is Coming. Will States Answer the Call? Advocates see a chance to transform mental health crisis services. But with deadlines looming, so is a fight with the telecom industry.
How Texas Cuts Fails Mentally Ill Texans - Helplessness, death and unanswered questions: One man’s death reveals a secretive system in crisis.
Locked up for three decades without a trial: A New York City man has been shuffled between Rikers Island and mental hospitals for 32 years.
B’More Kind: A City’s Response to Crisis (Vimeo movie)
End Federal Mental Illness Policies that Offload Mentally Ill to Criminal Justice. “We have two mental health systems today, serving two mutually exclusive populations: Community programs serve those who seek and accept treatment. Those who refuse, or are too sick to seek treatment voluntarily, become a law enforcement responsibility. . . . [M]ental health officials seem unwilling to recognize or take responsibility for this second more symptomatic group.” —Chief (Ret.) Michael Biasotti, chair, NYS Association of Chiefs of Police Committee on Untreated Serious Mental Illness.
Young Men of Color and the Other Side of Harm: Despite growing recognition of the disproportionate rates of young men of color caught up in the criminal justice system, little recognition is given to the fact that young men of color are also more likely to be the victims of crime and violence.
Decoupling Crisis Response from Policing — A Step Toward Equitable Psychiatric Emergency Services. As young psychiatrists of color, we bear witness to the failings of the U.S. mental health emergency response system. We reluctantly counsel our patients to trust this system, though we’re fully aware that it may harm them rather than ensure their safety.
A Model for Defunding: An Evidence-Based Statute for Behavioral Health Crisis Response. by Taleed El-Sabawi and Jennifer J. Carroll. Too many Black persons and other persons of color are dying at the hands of law enforcement, leading many to call for the defunding of police. These deaths were directly caused by excessive use of force by police officers, but were also driven by upstream and institutional factors that include structural racism, institutional bias, and a historic culture of racialized violence.
Deaf Community and Mental Health Care: The deaf community struggles daily with stigma, prejudice, and communication, but that's not all: medical studies have found that deaf people suffer from mental health issues at about twice the rate of the general population, and also have real problems accessing needed mental health services.
Dispatcher in Fatal Fire Hung Up on Victim Because He Spoke Spanish, Lawsuit Says. A group of former 911 dispatchers in Pennsylvania contends in a federal lawsuit filed this month that an Allentown man and his nephew died in a fire in 2020 after an emergency operator hung up on the man because he spoke Spanish — a claim that county officials dispute. The operator who answered the call from the man, Heriberto Santiago Jr., on July 27, 2020, made no effort to use a translation service as flames were engulfing his three-story home in eastern Pennsylvania, the lawsuit said.
Deaf Colorado man arrested for not complying with police commands he couldn't understand, lawsuit says: Brady Mistic, who uses sign language to communicate, could not understand the officers' verbal commands, according to his federal lawsuit.
Improving the way law enforcement deals with mental illness is emerging as one of the most important and challenging aspects of the national police reform movement.
Students Face Worsening Mental Health, But How Will Schools Handle It? As students return to school amid an ongoing pandemic, schools should be looking out for both their physical and mental health.
Solutions to Violence: Creating Safety Without Prisons or Policing: Following a massive wave of civil unrest and community organizing, more people are questioning what we have been taught and what is practiced with regard to policing, incarceration, safety, and the way our society responds to violence.
The Treatment Advocacy Center was founded in Arlington, Virginia, by E. Fuller Torrey, MD, in 1998. Dr. Torrey had worked for 15 years at a Washington, DC, clinic for homeless people with severe mental illness and authored Out of the Shadows: Confronting America’s Mental Illness Crisis about the criminalization of mental illness.
The Troubling History of 911 and How 988 Can Avoid the Same Missteps. It’s November 22, 2014, in Cleveland, Ohio. A man at a park dials 911 and tells call taker Constance Hollinger, “There’s a guy with a pistol.” “It’s probably fake, but he’s pointing it at everybody.” He says the person is on a swing just outside the Cudell Recreation Center and “probably a juvenile.” Three separate times, the 911 caller points out the weapon might not be real.
Victor Armstrong on Race, Mental Health, and How Removing Police Alone Is Not the Answer
Cops, Clinicians, or Both? Collaborative Approaches to Responding to Behavioral Health Emergencies
On World Mental Health Day, the American Psychiatric Association Foundation (APAF) is launching a new monthly podcast to engage the public in conversations about the current mental health crisis.
The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors provides numerous papers, documents and resources; especially on Trauma-Informed Care in Justice systems.
Directed by Don Argott, The Art of the Steal traces the history of the Barnes collection of Post-Impressionist paintings, which was worth billions and became the subject of a power struggle after the 1951 death of the owner, Dr. Albert Barnes.
Directed by David Midell, The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain is based on the true story of the events that led to the death of an elderly African American veteran with bipolar disorder, who was killed during a conflict with police officers who were dispatched to check on him.
Directed by Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, MD, Bedlam is a feature-length documentary that immerses viewers in the national crisis surrounding care for people with severe mental illness by telling the intimate stories of patients, families, and medical providers.
Philly D.A. (documentary series) - Directed by Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, and Nicole Salazar, Philly D.A. is an eight-part epic that takes an inside look at the first term of Philadelphia's District Attorney, Larry Krasner.
Directed by Alysa Nahmias, Krimes tells the story of incarcerated artist Jesse Krimes who created monumental works of art while locked-up for six years in federal prison. This film also features Mural Arts Philadelphia, who will be with us at the 2021 Summit to create a mural and engage other tools of creative expression and thought.
The Infrastructure of Wellbeing: The new infrastructure package could be one of the nation's most consequential investments in equitable wellbeing — but only if we make it so.
Behavioral Health Call Centers and 988 Implementation: A new NRI report highlights the experiences of 43 state Mental Health Agencies in working with state funded Behavioral Health Crisis Call Centers as they prepare for the implementation of 988—the three-digit-number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline that must be live by July 16, 2022.
Deflection and Pre-arrest Diversion to Prevent Opioid Overdose: Communities across the country have implemented deflection and pre-arrest diversion (DPAD) initiatives to link people who use drugs to evidence-based care and services instead of incarceration.
This blog highlights several counties investing ARPA Recovery Funds in jail diversion practices.
This brief outlines the elements of a behavioral health care continuum and strategies counties can implement to assist community members with a behavioral health condition.
This toolkit helps county officials lead local efforts to understand jail population drivers and implement data-driven solutions to manage these factors and associated costs.
This brief outlines the county elected official’s role in planning, funding and developing crisis triage centers to support county residents experiencing a behavioral health emergency.