Why We Need Better Mental Health Intervention: Korryn Gaines

As previously stated in part one, 1 in 4 people killed by the hands of an officer will have some case of a serious mental illness…The same is true in the case of Korryn Gaines. Korryn Gaines was a 23 year old mother of two who was murdered by Baltimore SWAT, IN FRONT of her five year old son.korryn-kodi The incident leading up to her death, began when three Baltimore police officers arrived at Korryn’s home to serve both her and her live in boyfriend warrants. When Korryn refused to  open the door, police obtained a key from the landlord and entered the home. What they saw upon entering was a Korryn holding her 5 year old child, as well as a shotgun and her phone.

Korryn FB Live Video

Now, the first thought that most officers would have in this situation is probably fear for their own safety – as was the case with Baltimore PD. They claimed that Korryn pointed the shotgun and made threats to officers, which eventually transpired into an almost 6 hours of negotiations, and ultimately the ending of the young mothers life…But here’s my question: Being that she was clearly in some state of distress and possibly suffering mental issues as well, why wasn’t there anyone who was brought in who was specially trained to speak and negotiate with mentally ill suspects? Reports claim that during the stand off with SWAT, Korryn would have moments of speaking calm and clearly, then the next moment she would be screaming and speaking irratically. On the surface, this could appear to be the affects of adrenaline and high emotions given the situation. But someone with more training and awareness could have identified her as a person with mental illness in distress.

Korryn Gaines – Instagram
Korryn Gaines had a long history of mental health issues, which is believed to have stemmed from lead poising earlier in her life. In 2012, Korryn filed a lawsuit against her former landlord, claiming that “a sea of lead” made her sick. The doctor who examined her found that Korryn displayed signs of neurocognitive impairment, as well as a significant loss of IQ points due to that exposure. (washingtonpost.com) Also important to mention, is the testimony given by Korryn’s pediatrician. She stated that Korryn had a history of anger and impulsive behavior, which resulted in many visits with the school counselor. She also revealed that Korryn also had difficulty with concentration, and was forced to drop out of college because it became to be too much for her. (baltimoresun.com) Additionally, according to Korryn’s boyfriend Kareem, she was prescribed medication for her mood, but had not been taking her medications for quite some time.

Korryn Gaines – Instagram
So back to my question – Why wasn’t a more suitable team of responders called to try and deescalate the situation, given Korryn’s mental status?

Korryn’s mother, Rhonda Dormeus was called to the scene with SWAT, but she wasn’t allowed to speak to her daughter. She stated that “..I don’t feel like they (Baltimore PD) exhausted all the means of negotiation.” There are currently over 2700 CIT (Crisis Intervention Teams) across the US, that’s main function is to elieviate difficult situations when people are experiencing mental distress. Those that have interactions with a CIT trained officer, are set up to receive counseling, medication services, as well as other means of treatment. (nami.org) All services that could have greatly benefited both Korryn Gaines her children, but instead she was forced to deal with her mental crisis alone, which ultimately cost her life.

– Jasmine JeNay ✨

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What’s Up With The Stigma Around Mental Illness?

Stigma –  [stig-muh] noun:

  1. a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation.
  2. a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease.

Nearly 1 in 5 adults in the United States suffer from some form of mental illness in their lifetime – that’s roughly 49 million people…49 MILLION. So that means there’s a pretty good chance you know a person or two who’s dealing with some form of mental illness right now.

Mental illness is particularly pertinent to people of color, although many refuse to believe that brown people can suffer from such ailments. Be that as it may, 18.9% of African Americans suffer from some form of mental illness, and Hispanics are close behind at 16.3%. The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that only .25% of African Americans actively seek mental health care, compared to a whopping 40% of Caucasians who seek help when needed.

Source: mentalhealthamerica.net

 

When someone feels as if they can’t ask for help due to this irrational fear of humiliation, not only do they choose not to seek care from a medical professional, but the individual is not practicing the best self care. Without a doubt, the perception of minorities being exempt from mental illness comes from a lack of education on the topic. Not to mention, the unspoken rule that Black people (especially men) have to remain strong, fearless and independent at all times. We can’t show any sign of weakness – lest you want to run the risk of being judged and sometimes even ridiculed by family, friends, coworkers, even church members…

Allow me to address and then clarify a few common misconceptions that further the stigma of mental illness – many of which I’ve personally faced, and often times still do:

  1. The thought that someone who is depressed is just being lazy.
  2. People with mental illnesses simply aren’t trying hard enough to feel better.
  3. Having a more positive outlook on life will make your symptoms go away.
  4. People who suffer from anxiety disorders are “flakey” or not dependable.
  5. Praying or putting your issues in the hands of God or a higher power will make them go away.

These stigmas couldn’t be farther from the  truth! For most people, their mental illness is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain that  doesn’t allow their neurotransmitters to communicate appropriately in processing emotion and behavior.

My Daily Med Regimen

So if someone you know says they’re depressed and they have little to no energy to complete tasks or even get out of bed – believe them. Trust me, no one wants to sit around all day feeling hopeless and unmotivated to do anything. You certainly can’t wish away mental illness, or try harder not to have it, just like you can’t wish away the flu or tell yourself to stop feeling like crap: It is a real illness that requires medication, therapy, and a good self care routine. The same is true for having a positive outlook on life. Looking on the bright side” isn’t always enough when you’re dealing with mental illness. Now, I’ve been called a flake my whole life: I used to cancel plans with friends and often isolate myself instead of going out and socializing with people I care about. Not because I’m a bad friend or a loner, but rather because I have both social and generalized anxiety disorders. Sometimes I just need to be alone, and that’s okay too! This last point REALLY gets under my skin, because I love my Lord & Savior – but as I said before about wishing problems away, the same is true for praying. Without getting too deep, I believe that prayer and spirituality does play a part in any type of healing, but you can’t get help if you don’t try and help yourself as well…

With that being said, let’s stop with all the stigma and judging around mental illness. Take the time to educate yourself, so you can be a better friend, parent, child, partner or whatever else to that person in your life struggling with mental illness. And for my fellow Dreamers, let’s continue to show the world that we’re mentally strong, and perfectly imperfect just the way we are.


– Jasmine JeNay ✨

Hey Y’all, and Welcome!

Thanks so much for checking out jenaythedreamer.com! Let me start with a brief introduction of myself, and what you can expect to discover here on the site:

So first things first –  My name is Jasmine and I’m a twenty-something year old mother of two AMAZING little boys: Dexter (6) & Gabriel (1)

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…so dang cute, right?

Also important to note, I suffer from a plethora of mental illnesses such as Bipolar II Disorder, ADHD, and Social Anxiety just to name a few… So expect the majority of the content on here to be about mental health awareness and stigma prevention – ESPECIALLY when it comes to educating my fellow people of color. We gotta do better y’all!

That’s really what a bulk of the website’s focus will be, as mental health is something that everyone encounters at some point in life whether dealing with their own diagnosis, or that of a loved one.

…Other than that, you can expect to find content from me on a range of things including: My personal poetry and essays, social injustice and inequality, amateur photography shot by yours truly, being a working brown woman in corporate America, and everything else that makes us perfectly imperfect! Enjoy ❤️

– Jasmine JeNay ✨