(10-4-15) Mira Signer, the executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Virginia, reminds us in this Op Ed printed this weekend in The Washington Post that we know how to help persons with mental illnesses who are locked in Virginia’s jails and prisons — we simply aren’t doing it.
This is true in other states as well. The problem is not a lack of knowledge but of political clout. I believe we will only gain that power when we create a strong mental health coalition and a PAC that will contribute to campaigns of candidates who support mental health reform. Thanks Mira for speaking out so eloquently.
Closing the gaps in mental health care in Virginia
Two recent incidents, each horrifying, should give Virginians pause about how much progress has been made in recent years regarding our mental-health system.
● Twenty-four-year-old Jamycheal Mitchell, who had a history of mental illness, died in a Virginia jail while waiting three months for a hospital bed to open up.
● Natasha McKenna, a 37-year-old mother from Alexandria with a history of mental illness, died in a Fairfax County jail after being shocked multiple times with a Taser. Her death was ruled accidental.
So many questions. So much heartbreak. So much outrage.