Don't Call 911: America's Policing and Healthcare Systems Fail Black People With Mental Health Challenges

Kayla Moore. Ezell Ford. Deborah Danner. Marcus-David Peters. Pamela Turner.

Each of these Black people were killed by police. They all dealt with mental health challenges.


In this country, folks with mental health concerns are 16 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement. And as calls to defund and abolish America’s police grow louder and louder, many mental health experts and advocates are also weighing in.

Specifically, they’re demanding that police no longer be the first responders for dealing with any sort of mental health crises and, instead, they want money from police budgets to be reallocated to underfunded and necessary social programs, like those that prioritize mental health, education, and housing.


Eugene, Ore., is home to a team of community-based first responders composed of crisis workers and medics who have attended to public safety calls, including mental health crises, for over 30 years. Last year, they received 24,000 calls.

Georgetown University professor of law M. Gregg Bloche explains how race and gender dramatically affect the help someone receives—or doesn’t—during mental health emergencies, why those who are incarcerated often leave prison in even worse condition psychologically, and more in the video above.

Jessica Moulite is an award-winning Video Producer at The Root passionate about dismantling unjust societal power structures and all things Black culture. She's also probably watching “Living Single.”


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