On the Record

Be part of the solution

In On the Record

Jessica Priest

By Jessica Priest
Aug. 18, 2017 at 11:17 a.m.

More than three years ago, after a man with mental illness was arrested on suspicion of beating an acquaintance unconscious outside a gas station, I wrote a story. The story sought to answer this question - How can we better protect both the mentally ill and the public?

I realize now that wasn't the right question.

We had to first examine how decades of under funding had led to gaps in mental health care and how law enforcement has been called upon to fill those gaps without having the tools necessary to do so.

A lot has changed since I wrote that initial story, but some would argue that not enough has changed.

Please join the Victoria Advocate and the Gulf Bend Center on Sept 7 to talk about the gaps and what's being done to fill them.

We're meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the VISD Conference Center room D. The VISD Conference Center is at 2909 Miori Lane. 

This follows a five-part, award-winning series I wrote about the state of mental health care in the Crossroads. The series ended in April, but the struggle is far from being over for some.

For example, in May, I wrote about how one of the men I'd featured in the series was back in jail, accused of sending his estranged mother a Facebook message.

After the series was reprinted, another man I featured wrote me a heartbreaking letter. He said it was hard to read what I'd written about him, but it turned out to be true. I'd written that he'd more than likely be locked up again because he had no support in the community.

Michael Martinez Letter 7-29-17 by Victoria Advocate on Scribd

I also encourage you to read this report by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, which found that 40,000 adults in Texas live in poverty with complex health conditions move repeatedly through jails, emergency rooms and homeless shelters. And if you're someone who likes to look at what this means for your pocket book, this report will be especially useful.

As I tried to stress when my series was reprinted earlier this month, there are no easy solutions to this longstanding problem, but we can all be part of the solution. We can all at least talk about a topic that has for so long been overlooked. 

I hope you'll join us on Sept. 7!



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