Cal Voices Condemns the Killing of George Floyd and Government Efforts to Infringe on Americans’ First Amendment Rights On May 25, 2020, the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police was captured on video, and the recording was widely disseminated through social and traditional media. The response has been swift and widespread, resulting in mass protests and demonstrations in cities across the United States and even in other countries. In some locations, peaceful protests have been undermined by looting, property destruction, and riots. Violent clashes between police and protesters and law enforcement’s harsh treatment of numerous media reporters have ratcheted up tensions throughout the country. In California, ongoing protests are taking place in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento. On Monday, June 1, 2020, the City of Sacramento implemented a city-wide curfew and bringing in the National Guard, resulting in over 121 curfew arrests so far.
Racial Disparities in the American Criminal Justice System Harm Mental Health The intensity of the response to George Floyd’s death reminds us this is not an isolated incident. Police-involved fatalities are so common that the Washington Post has created a database of these events, reporting 1,262 deaths of Black Americans by or in the custody of law enforcement since January 2015. Racial inequality in the criminal justice system impacts minority mental health, undermines the wellbeing of entire communities, and is a destructive social force in America. This inequality plays out through the criminalization of mental health conditions, biased policing, disparities in sentencing guidelines, and lack of mental health care in the community and within institutions. These disparities further impact conditions in minority communities, exacerbating underlying negative social determinants of health and risk factors for mental illness, homelessness, and criminal justice involvement. According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, “[c]hildren with an incarcerated parent are at increased risk for mental illness and are three times more likely to suffer depression or behavioral problems than adults … [resulting] in learning disabilities, developmental delays, social isolation, stigma, unstable childcare arrangements, strained parenting, and reduced income.” It’s not just children who are effected. Formerly incarcerated people have difficulty finding employment at a living wage (or at all). As such, mass incarceration within minority communities increases social and economic disparities, leading to the deterioration of cities. The cumulative effects of systemic racial disparities in the criminal justice system have widespread deleterious effects on individuals, families, and communities, creating a national public health crisis.
Minority-Focused Mental Health Resources in Sacramento County
Managing stress and engaging in effective self-care is critical to the emotional health of those impacted by community violence. Episodes of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder often increase during and following social unrest. Find ways to engage with others, take a break from the news and social media, go to a safe space, seek out professional help, stick to the basics (i.e. eating, prioritize sleep, etc.). It’s important to find self-care strategies that work for you. CompassPoint has a Self-Care Starter Kit to help you stay well during these difficult times.
African American Mental Health Providers 916-691-1190
Goals for Women 916-754-7610
Safe Black Space 530-683-5101
The Living Room 916-234-0178
The Ripple Effect 916-891-0211
Wellspring Women’s Center 916-454-9688
Opportunities for Positive Civic Engagement
Getting involved can increase hope and reduce the feeling of helplessness. Find groups in your area with similar interests where you can make a difference. Here are some organizations you can start with:
Cal Voices is an Emerging Leader on Mental Health and Criminal Justice Policy
Cal Voices was recently awarded two advocacy contracts from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to represent the interests and mental health needs of consumers with lived experience of criminal/juvenile justice involvement and their family members. For updates on our forthcoming ACCESS to Opportunity project, please subscribe to our email list. Be sure to check out our ACCESS California website.