Does perpetrators of mass shootings = more mental institutions???

Within the past month, we dealt with back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, TX, Dayton, OH, and near Odessa, TX.

In February of 2018, when we dealt with the Parkland High School shooting that left 17 people dead, Donald Trump quickly turned his thoughts to creating more mental institutions. That was his solution to the shooting.

Fast-forward to present 2019, a year where we have dealt with several mass shootings, Congress/The Senate has not increased gun laws, background checks are not as intensive, and Donald Trump again speaks of building new facilities for the mentally ill as a way to reduce mass shootings.

Now the White House staff members are looking for ways to incorporate the president’s desire for more institutions into a long list of other measures aimed at reducing gun violence.

The Trump Administration is using Indiana as a ‘model’, where this past March, Indiana opened up a new 159-bed psychiatric hospital, which focuses on treating patients with the most challenging psychiatric illnesses and then moving them into treatment settings with the community or state mental health system. This was initiated by Mike Pence, who stated that “our prisons have become the state’s largest mental health provider.”

Not everyone is in agreement with this notion that Trump proposes. Many mental health professionals say this proposal of building more mental facilities reflect outdated thinking on the treatment of mental illness. They feel Trump’s support for new mental institutions would do little to reduce mass shootings in the U.S. and incorrectly associates mental illness with violence.

Let’s look at some factors discerning mental illness, funding, and violence:

  • The number of state hospital beds that serve the nation’s most seriously ill patients has fallen from more than 550,000 in the 1950s to fewer than 38,000 in the first half of 2016, according to a Survey from the Treatment Advocacy Center
  • It is recommended that Congress add $35 million for a block grant program to help states provide more community-based care to people in a mental health crisis
  • Issues as a result to psychiatric facilities that need to be addressed
    1. Not enough hospital beds
    2. Huge number of people in jails
    3. Homelessness
    4. High treatment costs
  • NAMI estimates 1 in 5 American adults are living with a mental illness: Research has shown that only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for mental illness
  • Most people living with serious mental illnesses are never violent
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association, people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of violence
  • In order to execute Trump’s consideration of more mental institutions, it would require more federal money and loosening Medicaid’s restrictions on mental health funding. PROBLEM: this is impossible to achieve as the government is expected to run a $1 trillion deficit in the next fiscal year

Now how does mental institutions relate to mass shootings and acts of violence?? In all honesty, it DOES NOT. The problem does not lie with people’s mental capacity but the access to lethal weapons that are being used in these crimes.

Let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute. Let’s try to understand why Trump may be coming to his conclusion of more mental institutions, without delving deeper into the effect of the mentally ill and violence. According to a 2018 study of 63 active shooters, only 25 percent had been diagnosed with a mental illness. That may be considered small, but the percentage extracted from the study is actually higher than the percentage of the general population, 18 percent.

Now lets look at the mass shooters of this past month:

  • El Paso, TX shooter: had no mental illness
  • Dayton, OH shooter: had evidence of mental health illness (was caught with mental health receipts and was found with mental health drugs in his system/autopsy)
  • Odessa, TX shooter: had mental illness (bought gun in private sale, after ban due to mental illness)

If we examine just these three cases, 2/3 or 66.6 percent were associated with a mental health illness. So this example would support Trump’s solution of creating more mental institutions. HOWEVER, could these perpetrators have shown enough warning signs that would have put them in a mental institution before committing the act?

Yes, I agree that mental health needs more attention, but YES I also feel we need to fix the broken system of our psychiatric institutions and their recidivism rates that have the same patients returning with the same or new diagnoses or committing more heinous crimes.

I’ll close with a saying by Marvin Swartz: “even if society were to cure serious mental illness, total violence would decline by only about 4 percent.”

It is up to us as a society to act, see the warning signs and red flags, and find more holistic solutions to addressing issues that are presented as mental health concerns, and maybe, just maybe the violence can be diminished with time.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS???

I’m ‘LOCKED’ Up, {they} won’t let {us} OUT: The issue on Immigration, Detention Centers, and the bylaw of ‘one nation, under ALL’

According to the LA Times, there are two core elements of Trump’s administration’s policies and actions governing immigrants:

  1. There is a strong desire to limit new residents from abroad
  2. There is a blind disregard for whatever cruelty might be inflicted in service of that goal

The overall message being broadcasted to families primarily in Central America is: DON’T EVEN BOTHER.

Some examples of the actions of the policies administered by the Trump administration are as followed:

  • A plan to end a program that deferred deportation for migrants suffering from debilitating illness
  • Pulling children away from their migrant parents for the ‘crime’ of seeking asylum
  • Opening of federal family detention centers to hold arriving families until their fate gets decided on in immigration court. There is a backlog of 1+ million cases, with some cases pending on average for 705 days
  • ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy: Trump administration has sent at least 35,000 people with a legal right to seek asylum in the United States to wait in a completely separate country while their applications are being processed
  • ‘Public charge’ rule: The denying of green cards to immigrants living legally in the United States if they use or are deemed likely by the government to use certain safety net programs for more than 12 months within a 36-month period
    • This has led to countless migrants to drop out of programs they are entitled to participate in for fear of jeopardizing their legal status

The most striking aspect of the immigration issue that really doesn’t get told is the relation to mental health.

Psychologists warn that incarcerating children even for short periods of time, with or without their parents, can lead to mental health issues. A report by the Inspector General of Department of Human and Health Services concluded that the government has failed to address mental health issues faced by minors who arrived unaccompanied after fleeing violence, or who were forcibly separated from their parents at the border.

This is the most excruciating effect aside from children being separated from their parents. If the treatment of the mental health system is partially broken, and we do not effectively combat mental health with our citizens, let alone asylees, how do make sure we maintain the well-being of our migrants? Both infants, children, and adults?

What are your thoughts on the immigration issue? Do you feel there is a solution?

Would love to hear your thoughts!!

The Birther Issue…here we go again…

I thought I would not have to discuss this in 2019, but here we go again…

Towards the end of June, politics took a return to something that some people may have thought we would not revisit…

The ‘Birther’ Issue

The term ‘birtherism’ is defined as the idea that Obama was not born in the United States, but this term has now transpired to some of our current Presidential candidates. Some people thought it was funny when Donald Trump, Sr. was referring to candidate Elizabeth Warren as ‘Pocahontas’, as a way to make fun and create merit to his many conspiracy theories

Now Donald Trump, Jr. has taken merit to these theories as he had retweeted one of Ali Alexander that later got deleted for fear that people were misreading what his overall message. The tweet state:

“Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black slaves, she’s not. She comes from Jamaican Slave owners. That’s fine. She’s not an American Black. Period.”

This tweet was in response to Kamala Harris speaking on the issue of race when she addressed VP Joe Biden on an anti-discrimination policy he lobbied against in his youth.

Support for Kamala Harris has come from most of the Presidential Democratic candidates and some from the right-wing. Kamala has expressed herself on the Breakfast Club by saying:

“This is the same thing they did to Barack. This is not new to us– we know what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to do what has been happening the last two years, which is powerful voices trying to sow hate and division among us. We need to recognize when we’re being played.”

There have been other conspiracy theories brought up by Trump and his administration on several other members of Congress and candidates, but it seems that as long as Donald Trump and his entourage have some sort of executive power, these types of allegations will not cease.

What are your thoughts on the birther issue? How do you feel conspiracy theories, such as this and future ones can be avoided? Do you feel like the birther issue will hinder Kamala Harris’ success as a presidential candidate?

Kyle Dendy: A Calling From God

On Sunday, June 23rd, 2019, we had a special guest visitor who was invited by our youth pastor, Minister Trey DuPont. This guest speaker goes by the name of Kyle Dendy. A young black male, probably in his early to mid 20s and starts off his speaking engagement with spoken word. I was enthused by his sense of poetry: so eloquent, yet melodical. In the back of my head, I was thinking, “this would be so dope if the whole sermon was in spoken word…DIFFERENT!”

Come to find out his spoken word was just the warm-up and prequel to his actual sermon. Kyle Dendy’s sermon was on the book of Matthew 25:14-29, with an emphasis of verse 25. He titled his sermon, “Graduating fro the FEAR of FAILURE.” Kyle wanted us to focus on what our own purpose is and for us to put into perspective where our life is going. Kyle shared some of his personal life stories, when first wrote his first published book, past dreams and aspirations until his present state as a motivational speaker and best-selling author.

To see a young man, a BLACK nan, who is following his vision and serving others as a child of God is beyond inspiring. After 8am service, I was fortunate enough to purchase Kyle Dendy’s most recent book, “The Purpose Playbook” and casually talk to him about my side aspirations of becoming an author as enlightment to others of mental health by writing a poetry book. He was beyond supportive and I look forward as having him as a possible future mentor when I bring the first draft of the book to fruition!

I took notes and read the Purpose Playbook in its entirety within 4 days! Trust me, the book will not disappoint. I encourage you, if you haven’t yet, to purchase “The Purpose Playbook,” which is available on Amazon.

As I was fortunate to get a personalized autograph, Kyle signs my book with the following quote, “Evalina Ikpoh, NO Dream is too big!”.

Kyle, Thank You for sharing your ministry and being an encouragement to others!

You can follow him on the following platforms:

Instagram: @kyledendy

Facebook: Kyle Dendy

Website: http://www.kyledendy.com

The book
Conversing with church members at The Greater Zion Missionary Baptist Church
Kyle personalizing his books for purchase
Hoping to be that next best-selling author!
Kyle Dendy & I

Year of 30, Year of Self-Reflection

Cheers to another decade of life! Late March, March 27th to be specific, I turned 30 years of age.  Many people who know me, know I LOVE to travel and am an extrovert.  However, this time I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to travel by myself, I wanted to commemorate another milestone in age by having a trip of self-reflection with no family nor friends.  I also wanted to travel on the whole other side of the world, somewhere I’ve dreamed of by being mesmerized from pictures.  I chose a well-traveled city in Asia: Phuket, Thailand.

Why the self-reflection? What has occurred in the past decade of my life? Well, several months after I turned 20 years, I lost my father to stage-4 T-cell lymphoma.  Instead of graduating the average four years from undergrad, it took me six years, which involved two semesters for bereavement and time off to deal with my newly diagnosed mental illness.  I then eventually entered graduate school to then lose my favorite uncle also to a different type of cancer a semester short of me graduating.  Both of my graduations, I honored and paid tribute to my fallen relatives.  Close to graduating from my Masters, I started a relationship to the love of my life and friend for 3 years prior Ndubuisi, to then become engaged a year later.  I suffered several losses, while gaining many wins and overcoming obstacles, all in the pursuit of applying to medical school this upcoming cycle.  So this past decade has showed me many life events where a self-reflection should be a requirement.  I simply took every opportunity to seize that moment by doing so on my birthday.

Everybody needs time to self-reflect at some time, if not several periods of their lives.  It allows you to put important things in focus while seeing the trajectory that you have gone.  Do what makes you comfortable while being alone, whether that is a spa date, a good read, retail therapy, devotionals, or anything that allows you to put things into perspective.

For me, I was fortunate enough to combine my moment of self-reflection with something I love: travel.   To get to Phuket, I flew Etihad Airways, with a connection to Abu Dhabi (which I will visit personally another time) to Bangkok, then Bangkok Airways to Phuket.  Both airlines I highly recommend! The service was immaculate.

Enjoy my compilation of short videos and pictures from my trip.

Positive Affirmations: Something to LIVE by

How do you start off your day?  Do you wake up and immediately go into prayer mode, thankful for another day? Is there a specific morning ritual you do before starting your day (clean, cook, exercise, meditate, etc.)? Do you start off the day with your morning devotional? If none of the above, I would LOVE to hear how you start your day!

For me, I utilize my Holy Bible app on my iPhone and the first thing I do around 5 am is read the ‘Verse of the Day’. What I love about this feature is that the verse allows you to make an image, which you can share on the app with your friends or you can save the image and share with others outside of the app.  I usually have these select verse images as my positive affirmations to start off my day, and I also share with my followers on InstaStory on Instagram.  You never know who needed to hear that verse image or who needed to be motivated in order to start their day.  As Diddy would say “spread positivity, spread light.”  We are the light of the world, positivity starts from within and we need to remind ourselves of that constantly.  Positivity not only boosts self-esteem but also encourages us to be kind to others even in the face of negative obstacles.  The image used are a compilation of some of my favorite verse images for the month of May.

Whatever your positive affirmation is, make sure you spread that positivity to others.  We need each other!

Summer 2019 Read: More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth

As mentioned previously, as Elaine Welteroth is June’s celeb TRANSPARENT of the month, she just released her first self-authored book and memoir, More Than Enough, on June 11, 2019.  On June 20, 2019, it has already been recognized as a New York Times bestseller! Congratulations!

Growing up in my teenage years, I had a strong love for reading books—all types: novels, fiction, horror, and memoirs/biographies along with romance books.  I probably should not have read some of those romance books at that tender age, but it created a passion for me to read outside the classroom.  My passion for leisure reading subsided when I entered undergrad and graduate school.  Reading for fun to me was no longer an option as I was burnt out for reading for a grade in school by force.  After graduate school, I began to personal memoirs with me first starting to read Becoming by my forever FLOTUS Michelle Obama.  Enjoying memoirs more came apart of adulting, I guess.

With More Than Enough, just being an avid fan of Elaine from her Ebony and Teen Vogue days as a reader of her work, I’m elated for Elaine to share her personal journey and advice for others to shatter our glass ceilings, of what it means to come into our own.  In the New York Times article titled, Race, Power, Drive: Elaine Welteroth shares all in new book, the first paragraph begins by explaining Elaine’s life plan: she’d hit the top of a magazine masthead, then move into TV, books, film, and beyond.  This life plan she already accomplished at the age of 32, and the best is yet to come!  Excited to see what else is in store for this revolutionary woman that continues to lead by example and experience.

Elaine describes this book as a “book about lighting torches,” and “[she’] hopes [to] inspire young woman to dream a little bit bigger and to support other women as you go.”

I was successfully able to purchase the kindle version of the book for my iPad in addition to my hardcover copy, which is expected to arrive Thursday, June 27th latest.  What are you waiting for?  I designate More Than Enough: Claiming Space for Who You Are (no matter what they say) as the summer read of 2019.

Please share, what other books are you excited to read this summer??