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Police Violence Against People With Disabilities

Latrea Wyche/Contributing Writer

In recent months, law enforcement across the country has come under fire for incidents of police brutality within African American communities. The brutal death of George Ford has caused America to take a closer look at the people who are armed with the charge of “protect and serve” but instead chooses to shoot and kill. Police brutality is nothing new, and this not just an African American thing, people with disabilities have had to deal with some of the same treatment. According to a report done by the Ruderman Family Foundation, a disability organization, proposes that while police interactions with minorities draw increasing scrutiny, disability and health considerations are still neglected in media coverage and law enforcement policy. I know you are probably sick of me making everything about people with disabilities, but these are the un-talked about issues that our community faces on a daily, basis but yet, they receive no attention.

When police officers encounter a person with a disability, they do not have the proper training to handle the situation. That’s where it all starts, training. with such a large population of disabled people in America, it would seem like common sense to me, for police officers to receive some type of training on how to handle a person with a disability. For example, when arresting a deaf person or a person with a hearing impairment, cops should not cuff them with their hands behind their back because in most cases, they use their hands to communicate, it would be kinda difficult to communicate with their hands behind their back. Another question how many police forces in America offer basic sign language courses, some would argue it would be a waste of time, but you never know as a cop when you might have to stop a deaf person, and just imagine how much more comfortable that person would feel knowing that you are able to communicate with them.

According to a database maintained by The Washington Post, in 2018, at least 139 people with mental illness have been shot and killed by cops. based on the research I conducted, a large number of people with disabilities that are killed by cops have some form of mental illness. “Police have become the default responders to mental health calls,” write the authors, historian David Perry and disability expert Lawrence Carter-Long, who analyzed incidents from 2013 to 2015. They propose that “people with psychiatric disabilities” are presumed to be “dangerous to themselves and others” in police interactions. So, the question now becomes what do we do with this information, how do we use this information to better our community…..knowledge is power the more knowledge we have the more powerful we are.

Latrea Wyche

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Mental illness and the body of Christ…

Latrea Wyche / Contributing Writer

One in four Americans suffers from a form of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Many look to their church for spiritual guidance during these times of distress. But they are unlikely to find much help on Sunday mornings. As believers of Christ some of us (notice I said some of us) are led to believe that struggling with a mental illness is somehow attached to or related to sin. We must have done something or allowed ourselves to entertain unhealthy spirits that have attached themselves to our mind. This type thinking does more harm than good, especially to a person who battles with mental illness on a day to day basis, this type of thinking blames the victim makes, them feel like their illness is their fault. Do not get me wrong, can we get ourselves tangled up in some things where we allow unhealthy spirits to enter our minds, yes that can happen but is that always the case: no. So many times, as Christians we are so quick to look for a cause or someone or something to blame when people around us are dealing with certain issues. Instead of stepping in and praying for our brothers and sisters instead we choose to judge them.
Mental illness is not just something that we can just throw oil on or cast out and expect it to just magically go away. This is an everyday battle, that many within the body of Christ do not really seem to understand. Therefore, it hard to get assistance from the church when it comes to mental illness because they do not understand it, therefore the only advice they can give is pray. Now please believe me I know people can be healed from any sickness or illness and prayer does change things I am living proof of that, but it going to take an all hands-on deck approach. Mental illness must be attacked from both a spiritual and natural perspective, as it in Heaven so it is in on Earth, the Bible tells us faith without works is dead meaning we can pray and have all the faith in the world but nothing going happen until we put some work behind it. For some work could mean going to see a therapist, for others work could mean being on some medication. Whatever work is for that person.

This is a conversation the Church needs to have. Suicide may be one of the most complex and demanding topics of all. Over the past few years, the discussion has felt forced, especially when the event is connected to high-profile suicides of prominent Christian leaders or their family members and close associates. While the circumstances in these situations are varied, the question of mental health always comes up; and when we talk about mental illness and suicide, it immediately creates a unique challenge for believers. The question is “Why?” Why is it uniquely challenging for us to address issues often associated with mental illness?

Latrea Wyche

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“Disability Meets Depression”

Latrea Wyche/ Contributing Writer

Depression is not a topic you hear much about within the disability community.  But I guess when I  really think about it, I could see how they could be connected.  Depression is caused by a number of different factors, such as low self esteem lost of direction, a feeling of not belonging  just to name a few.  All of these things can also be directly connected to having a disability. In some cases it may not be the disability itself that causes the depression, it could be the effects of having a disability that may cause the depression.
Being disabled can cause one to have to face many ups and downs obstacles, hurdles, uphill battles, and valley experiences throughout our lives, the upside to this is all of this is God has used all of these experiences to shape and continues to shape who He has created us to be. But sometimes these experiences can also play on our emotions and self-esteem which makes life a little difficult deal with which can cause depression to set in if we are not careful. Depression is defined as a mental disorder characterized by being depressed, low, or “blue” mood that lasts more than a few days. Depressed people often lose interest in activities they formerly found pleasant, feel hopeless and sad, and suffer from low self-esteem.  Depression and disability often times goes hand and hand, depending upon the support system that a individual may have. But then the question become why does disability lead to depression:

Why does disability lead to depression?? 

No life direction or purpose – Many individuals who are disabled often feel as though because they are disabled they have no purpose which cases them to feel lost and out of place.  Then there is the individual who become disabled later in life, they have work hard to achieve a certain career goal. Acquiring a disability that no longer allows you to no longer work at that job hat you have been at for years, has a significant impact on your direction in life and may also impact your sense of purpose. For example, an airline pilot whose vision becomes seriously impaired is no longer able to fly. Such a devastating loss can easily open the door for depression.

The painful loss of a sense of purpose affects many disabled individuals who were formerly the primary breadwinner in the home. When you’re no longer able to provide for your family, it’s not unusual to develop the lingering helplessness or frustration that leads to depression. Feelings of worthlessness, another common symptom of depression, can begin to take a firm grip. This is seen commonly in a lot of disabled vets.

Decrease in self-esteem – Being disabled affects how you perceive and feel about yourself, as well as your place in society. A study of individuals with traumatic brain injury revealed they had lower levels of self-esteem and higher levels of depression than healthy individuals. Some disabled individuals lack confidence in their ability to control their body and manage their life adequately. The loss of autonomy can take a severe toll on self-esteem.

Sadness, anger or frustration – A disability can sometime prevent you from having you dream job or your dream career, but it isn’t always serious enough to keep you out of the workforce entirely. Feeling forced to take a job that isn’t as challenging, fulfilling, prestigious or well-paying can elicit negative feelings such as sadness, anger, frustration or resentment. 

Struggle of living with a disability – Quality of life often decreases after a significant injury or illness, especially when it limits the ability to perform normal daily activities. A serious brain injury, for instance, requires a person to relearn any number of tasks, from how to speak to how to button a shirt. In some cases, he or she simply isn’t able to relearn important functions. Likewise, a disability such as vision loss completely changes how someone lives. A newly blind person must learn how to navigate a dark world, losing at least some independence in the process.

Feeling bored – Some disabilities leave a person housebound, with few opportunities to interact with others. You may find yourself at home alone all day while your spouse is at work or confined to an assisted living center where community activities don’t match your interests. Boredom fosters negative emotions, including loneliness and frustration, which can trigger symptoms of depression.

Disability definitely raises depression risk; however, depression can also make the disability worse. For example, depression can make it more difficult for you to take proper care of your health. You are more likely to miss important appointments, such as a doctor visit or physical therapy. You may neglect to take your medications as directed. The result is a cycle in which the injury or illness triggers depression, which, in turn, makes the disabling condition worse.

Latrea Wyche
IG: CoachLatrea79
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