Forum addresses intersection of mental health and law enforcement

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INDIANAPOLIS – A forum addressed the intersection of mental health and law enforcement Thursday morning.

Several prominent health and law enforcement officials participated in the forum. U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams was keynote speaker and said that trauma causes mental illness. He said the events of 2020, from the COVID-19 pandemic to nationwide protests against police violence, have had detrimental effects on all Americans’ mental health.

With a perspective for Indiana law, Attorney General Curtis Hill gave opening remarks about what he called, “continuing trauma” officers witness on the job. From suicides to car crashes, he says police see it all and that *their mental health needs are going unmet.

Director of the Marion County Public Health Department, Doctor Virginia Caine, spoke to that point. She said officers need constant training on how to deal with community members in life-threatening situations, but also on implicit bias.

Surgeon General Adams talked about trauma in Black communities, citing a 2017 report from the American Psychiatric Association. It showed mental illness rates for Black Americans are similar to other groups, but that disparities exist when it comes to services.

“African Americans often receive lower quality of care and lack access to culturally competent care. So it’s not that there’s something wrong with us uh… separate from other people in the population. It’s that we don’t have the same opportunities to be healthy,” Adams said.

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