Advocacy E-News September 6, 2016
September 6, 2016
PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES COMMENT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT AND MENTAL HEALTH
As the country moves into the last months before Election Day the presidential candidates are getting serious about mental health. Both candidates answered questions sent last month by the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Below the candidates responded to a question on alleviating Law Enforcements role in mental health intervention.
Lack of adequate mental health services have resulted in a large portion of law enforcement’s calls for service involving individuals with mental illness. What steps will you take to alleviate law enforcement’s role in mental health intervention?
Lack of adequate mental health services have resulted in a large portion of law enforcement’s calls for service involving individuals with mental illness. What steps will you take to alleviate law enforcement’s role in mental health intervention? Unfortunately, law enforcement will have to continue to play a role in how we proceed as a nation with mental health reform. I will work with Congress to see that mental health reform is a top priority in my administration. As we move toward solving these problems, perhaps law enforcement’s role can be diminished and community services and family involvement might be fundamental to fixing a very broke system.
The mental health crisis in America must be treated as the health issue that it is. However, much like the opioid epidemic, our failure as a nation to invest in mental health care has turned our criminal justice system into the first, and often primary, source of care for too many Americans who need treatment. Over half of prison and jail inmates today have a mental health issue. Many of these individuals are first-time or nonviolent offenders, and it is likely that many of them would never have had contact with the criminal justice system had they received adequate treatment. This issue is critical for those with mental health issues and their families.
It’s also critical to our law enforcement officers who have taken on an increasing role in mental health interventions.
As president, I will pursue a robust mental health agenda that ensures Americans have access to mental health treatment, in community settings wherever possible, and that works to eliminate the stigma that is too often associated with seeking out treatment for mental health.
In addition, for those with mental health problems who do enter the criminal justice system, I will increase investments in local programs such as specialized courts, drug courts, and veterans’ treatment courts, which help put individuals with mental health problems on the path to treatment and can reduce rates of recidivism. Finally, we know that we will never entirely eliminate the interaction between law enforcement officers and the mental health crisis in America—but we can do more to ensure they are prepared and supported to intervene when they must. I will fight to provide resources to invest in training on crisis intervention and referral to treatment.