Daniel Prude is my brother. When I see and hear what happened to him at the hands of police, I see my brother.
My brother had a contentious and humiliating encounter with police when he was psychotic that left him emotionally scarred and distrustful of police. Though my brother was white and this situation took place many years ago in a different city, though my brother did not die at the hands of police, but years later in large part due to his mental illness and substance abuse--Daniel Prude is my brother.
Daniel Prude and all mentally ill people are our siblings, our parents, our children. My brother and all people suffering from mental illness exacerbated by addiction are our siblings, our parents, our children, and sometimes ourselves.
I stand with the Black Lives Matters movement and the family of Daniel Prude. I value the worth and dignity of all people especially the most vulnerable among us. I affirm racial, cultural and religious diversity. I strive to foster the mental health of my clients and their families and to build a world that values diversity.
We do need police, but we need to operate as a team that supports the mental health of everyone especially people suffering from mental illness and addiction, especially people of color. That means that our system of policing needs to operate in substantially different ways. The death of Daniel Prude and other mentally ill people is not fair to anyone.
His death does not keep anyone safe and that includes police. When police work as a team with mental health counselors we can help keep people save with our understanding of mental health issues. At the same time mental health counselors absolutely need police to help when guns and other weapons are involved.
All of us need self-care practices and often professional support when we face intense, disturbing, or life-threatening situations in our work. These are very challenging times for all first responders including police, medical and mental health professionals. As a mental health counselor my work depends on maintaining my own mental stability through good self-care especially when I face intense and disturbing situations at work. I am trained to help others do this too as well.
As a therapist and a clergy person, I find ways to ground and center myself so that I can help the people who seek my support. I follows strict ethical guidelines to keep my clients safe and give each person the professional support they need.
We may not agree on specifics, but it is important to find ways to work together and support each other so that we can build a peaceful and just world.