"Speak Out" is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Scott Dempsey.
Mental illness is a problem in our country.
We see its influence on tragic events and it's blamed each time another mass shooting claims more lives.
And, yet, where are the resources proactively promoting mental health?
Our law enforcement officers and county jails are being social workers and temporary housing solutions right now, but that's not their specialty.
Should it be?
Recently, WBTV News introduced all of us to Officer Chase Suddreth with CMPD. He's a 10-year veteran police officer who shared that he's learned not every situation needs to end in an arrest. Sometimes, he says, people just want somebody to talk to them.
He knows an important part of protecting and serving includes community relations – helping solve problems.
Are we making sure people like Officer Suddreth have the training and resources they need to be effective?
When there's a medical emergency, you can call 9-1-1 and paramedics will come stop the bleeding.
But, when there's a mental health emergency, who should families call?
If their loved ones are not homicidal or suicidal, they often have few options.
If they live in rural communities, it can be even harder.
There are many situations out there where good people need real help.
The time to figure it out is right now because this is the biggest problem with mental illness.
We can't seem to talk about it until it's too late.