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New Orleans, La.
Dear Family and Friends--
“Raven, are you hungry?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said in a waning rasp.
Who knows what happened to his clothes, but the hospital gave him scrubs--four days ago.
Usually, scrubs like these are worn outside the hospital by only by chic high school and college kids. They are, in many ways, the new sweatpants. For Raven, however, it had become his wardrobe.
Senator Barack Obama came to
Obama said everyone should be able to access health care. He didn’t however specifically address the mental health problems of
I wonder what the next administration will do for the Ravens of New Orleans and the country. In many ways, KATRINA still claims people every day. People like Raven. He didn’t tell me why he was in the hospital. And I must confess, I’m making an assumption that his mental health was less than stable. But in a City where 9 of 10, rich or poor, black or white, have been affected by depression or post-traumatic stress, federal aid is a necessity not a “It’d sure be nice.”
When police find our mentally unstable on the streets, they take them to jail when psychiatric beds are full. And in Post-K NOLA, psychiatric beds have fallen by over 80 percent. This is not a statistic that should be ignored.
Mental health is not as stigmatized in
But in a City where it seems the residents are ready to speak; where people are open to their new existence, those trained to help are rare.
The mental illness spectrum in
Will they come forward? Who knows. Right now, we aren’t prepared even if they wanted to.