continuum of care

anonymous asked:

Rikers Island is an infamous New York City jail where people with mental health conditions are nearly 40% of the population. Many have been injured or been murdered there, or, like Kalief Browder, have died by suicide as a result of being incarcerated there. Even The NY Times has called for Rikers to be closed, and Just Leadership USA is leading a campaign to close it down. How can the mental health advocacy community help?

Abuses in the prison system have affected my family, so I can at least speak from those experiences.

My father died in the prison system at the age of 45 due to liver failure (he was an alcoholic and had contracted Hepatitis C). I saw him on Christmas Day of 2007. He was sickly and gaunt, with a distended belly that protruded so intensely that it looked like he might birth triplets at any moment. He wasn’t getting the medical care he needed, no matter how much he requested it or how sick he got. He died two months later, alone in a hospital, shackled to a bed. I was his next-of-kin, and I was not notified that he was dying. The only communication I received from the Florida prison system was a call ten hours after my father’s death, informing me that inmate Marc Stage had “expired,” and asking if I would like to collect the body.

Along with the alcoholism, my father had a comorbid mental health diagnosis. I don’t know how much of a role it played in his experiences as an incarcerated person, outside of its manifestations getting him into the troubles that resulted in incarceration. I don’t know if he sought services. I don’t know if he suffered abuses related to his mental health.

Even with the research I’ve done on Rikers, I don’t know if reform or closure is a better answer. I don’t see either being achieved easily because of larger systemic ills.

As far as what the advocacy community can do, we can do what we do best: raise our voices, shake things up, study the system and infiltrate it to further expose the abuses the inmates are suffering, volunteer, spend time with the inmates, advocate for the ones who have no one to advocate for them, and fight, fight, fight until we achieve the change we seek. 

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PERMANENT RECORD

In a word, AMAZING. But I had a premonition that this episode would be a good one. Honestly, my favorite kinds of episodes are the kinds involving character development and genuine conversations (and of course comedy). GM Permanent Record carried all of it, and it was GLORIOUS.

I’m a huge fan of the six experiencing life on the Other Side, especially because it’s not a “lemme see what’s out there and then revert to the same exact way I’ve always been” situation. It’s much more nuanced, as basically everything else on the show is. Maya, of her own accord, earns good grades and enjoys the benefits they offer. Zay outshines Lucas in baseball, no longer needing to be just the “cute friend.” Farkle develops just in learning he needs to put in more effort in order to excel; as they always say, a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.

This episode, personally, showed me that the “unhealthy” codependence that certain viewers were skeptical about is becoming less of an issue. Each of the characters is growing on their own, not needing others to define them. (I mean, we haven’t completely gotten there yet, but I would call this episode a step forward.)

That is partly why I would be a bit disappointed if the only reason they brought this episode into the equation was to give the token “sidekicks” one shot to experience the life of their “superiors,” but I know the show will give me more than that. It’s already shown that it’ll give me more than that, both in the six and in Cory. 

It would be completely unfair to allow the characters that would be stereotypically seen as secondary to have these different experiences but make it meaningless. I guarantee that every single character learned something in this episode. I loved that Riley, instead of getting that “protected” version of empty reassurances, got the truth. It was cold, and maybe a little harsh, but it was real. It will help her grow, and with the way her mind is moving, she needs all the reality she can get. Lucas, too, is so fixated on the idea of being a “perfect prince.” Although Riley definitely contributes to that, I wouldn’t think that it’s only her fault. He’s got so many preconceived notions about who he has to be that he’s not allowed to be himself. This “failure” and these other obstacles show him what it means to be faced with adversity, and that the way in which he chooses to handle it are more telling of his true character than any other thing he thinks he is or anything he wants to be. 

And then we have Cory. Our Resident Kidiot. He’s learning to reconcile the two sides of himself, “Dad” and “Mr. Matthews,” and in differentiating them, he’s become more effective at both. His admitting “although I only learned it just now” proves that there is always growth occurring, how difficult it is to pinpoint an exact moment in which one person is “truly themselves.”

Essentially, this show recognizes that almost everything is a continuum. GMW is careful not to typify its characters or resort them to “geeks” and “rebels” and “athletes.” Each and every character has their own dynamics and will experience their own kinds of development. To me, what makes a show worth watching is growth and what can be learned from it. And honestly, I know I’ll never be done learning over here.