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I would like to address the issue of disparity in Mendocino County’s response to families experiencing a serious mental illness crisis.
First by stating that when an individual is experiencing such an episode, it is not an individual experience, first and foremost it is a family one! Secondly, a community crisis that requires appropriate & quick action! Thirdly, education and response should be cohesive and compassionate.
I have had the unfortunate experience of having to ask for help and intervention on many occasions through Redwood Community Service’s crisis line and the Ukiah Police. At that time, there was not a working understanding of who was responsible for field crisis calls. RCS refused, UPD claimed they are not mental health workers, and we did not have a mobile crisis unit.
You soon learn that nobody wants to take on the responsibility of mitigating a mental illness crisis. That does not fly with SMI! Serious Mental Illness is a very cruel disease that is downplayed & seen as an individual’s responsibility. Every day families are discriminated against as they try to navigate the system and get help as their loved one deteriorates into their illness! It is simply unacceptable.
As I witness the response by MCSO & Search and Rescue to locate and aid Riley Hsieh as he had walked away from home while having a Serious Mental Illness Crisis, I am terribly sad and disturbed. So sad for Riley and his family because I understand this on a deeply personal level, it is painful and scary. I pray he is found safe and given the appropriate care and help.
That is where the disparity comes in, unfair treatment in a time of a Serious Illness Crisis. The response and aid to Mr. Hsieh are not the norm in a Mental Illness Crisis in Mendocino County. The answer I received to aid my son during many crises was none, until he committed a crime.
If I were standing on the corner having a heart attack people would rush to my aid ASAP and call 911 for a medical intervention no questions asked! If it is a person experiencing severe psychosis and paranoia which is a medical crisis we ignore it as if it is not our problem. The call for aid does not come if you are the mother. Discrimination? The very ill street people we allow to remain sick without intervention and treatment is a disgusting lack of care for our community as a whole. Laws aside intervention is necessary. Change is inevitable and unification of protocol is what we must strive for!
It’s really shameful to see how quickly help arrives, no questions are asked if you have some sort of clout. But for families like mine, we mostly get discarded like trash, like we’re the problem. Being poor is the problem. We somehow don’t deserve an equitable response.
Let’s delve into a compassionate unified educated response. Our community would thrive in so many meaningful ways if we cared enough to appropriately address the needs of those battling Serious Mental Illness.