Revolutionizing Mental Health

by Kayla Moon |

edited by Emma Dones

Imagine, if you will, that you are in a manic state completely unable to cope with reality. Suddenly, you’re grabbed, forcefully, by people you’ve never met and thrown into a small room with no windows. The doors are locked, and someone else begins to strip you naked, beating you if you protest. This is a short glimpse into the treatment of those committed to an asylum because they suffered from a psychological illness in 1840s America.

Modern science has yielded groundbreaking discoveries in understanding mental illness, however, despite this significant improvement, the treatment and care for mentally ill patients still resemble the horrors of the 1840s.

The homeless population is the most neglected community in America, and by analyzing that neglect, we can see just how ineffective our treatment is concerning mental health. Rather than demonizing the poor, let’s, instead, take a more open-minded approach. Of the data collected so far, numbers show that 30% of individuals who are chronically homeless could potentially be diagnosed with a mental illness. These numbers tell us homelessness is not merely caused by laziness or unwillingness to work but from an untreated psychological disorder or trauma of some kind. These individuals, who are forced to live on the streets through the hottest summers and depths of freezing winters not only suffer immensely from their environment but also fight a possibly more intolerable battle within their minds.

Our society has yet to build adequate structures of support for this community. It’s important to take an objective stance and observe how the methods of the 1840s still, frustratingly, correlate to the institutions of today. Often, when a homeless person has a mental health crisis, it is left to a police officer with little or no training in mental health to handle the situation. Brute force and weapons are often used, and 20% of the time the situation ends with officer-involved fatalities.

Rather than being placed in an asylum, the physiologically struggling homeless are thrown in jail. This sterile, institutionalized environment which consists of caging people suffering an emotional and mental crisis has yet to provide any rehabilitation success rates. That is reason enough to call for an end to these inhumane practices which only bring forth a horrendous way of affirming any preexisting conditions of mental illness. Homeless people who are in need of support are too often physically assaulted first and then thrown into a place which only serves to make their conditions infinitely worse. If we are to have any hope as to resolving this issue, we need to turn away from this system that is still, surprisingly, overwhelmingly supported.

Some homeless, those lucky enough not to be jailed, have access to county services where meetings are available with an intern psychologist. This system sounds like a good solution but is, in reality, entirely unhelpful. Take, for example, the stark differences between public services offered by the county and that which is provided by a private clinic.

The county office appears subhuman by comparison in the treatment and respect shown to its patients. When checking in, the individual is given a number and told to sit with 30-50 other people who are all on the bell curve of hysteria. In a private clinic, the individual is met with tea, magazines, inspirational pictures, and comfortable chairs with – at most – three to five others sharing the room. It is this kind of treatment from a private clinic that a mentally unstable person needs to receive to feel supported in their healing journey.

Whether homeless or living in poverty, the options for getting help with mental illness are severely limited. It ranges from physical altercations with the police, dehumanizing prison cells, or inadequate treatment that significantly differs from that of professional psychologist offices. From this, we can only conclude that the system in place for psychological treatment is broken and incorrectly utilized.

“The human, social, and economic impact of not treating serious mental illness is beyond calculation,” says the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Refusing to give aid to those with mental health issues has severe costs for all of us, even if we aren’t homeless or mentally ill. We must work to stifle the echoing horrors of the 1840s. This national trend of neglect needs to come to an end. Being a genuinely advanced and civilized nation means treating your fellow person with dignity and allowing them access to the resources that are needed. This is not a call to demolish the systems in place; this is a call to humanize them, expand, fund, and support them in their growth to help aid America’s national mental health crisis.


Exploring Revolution

Black Liberation in the White Man’s America

by Kayla Moon |

edited by Emma Dones

The black revolution in America is in motion, and it’s not going to disappear until this community has been set free from the imprisonment of systematically controlled terror. There are many different microfacets to all the complexities and working parts of this movement.

First, we must dissect how we got to this level of oppression and division towards the black community. Revolutionary artist Wise Intelligent identifies the black experience in America in an album titled The Blue Klux Klan. He highlights the police force and its roots in slavery, the prison industrial complex, drugs, and weapons planted by the CIA in black communities, the music industrial complex poisoning the culture, ripping apart black families, normalizing violence and hypersexualization of the youth. By the end of the album, it is painfully clear as to why there is a deeply rooted inability to prosper in America as a black person.

A lyric in a song goes “The Blue Klux Klan on a black man’s conscious/like those slave patrols and night watches/ became modern police departments/ Heartless business/ used to burn crosses/ that’s by night, daylight they wear badges/ and its been this way from day one/ send them to catch that slave when he run/ then they shoot him dead with they gun/ like they hunt and slaughter for fun/ black man woman daughter and son.”

This systematic corruption within the police force was the spark which lit the flame of the national Black Lives Matter movement. This national revolutionary movement is only the beginning of a radical era of freeing black people from the historical oppression in America. The oppression in this country is a subtle knowledge that every black person has experienced in one way or another. For the white man’s America, there is an underlying uncertainty if these are facts. In the white man’s America, the bootstrap fable continues to be pushed as a collective fairytale. In the white man’s America, it’s spun that black people shouldn’t react so negatively to the cops; or that they shouldn’t be criminals and then they wouldn’t go to prison or jail. In the white man’s America, there is a lack of understanding and genuine empathy for others’ personal experiences. In the white man’s America, there is a deep-rooted ideological sickness that is continually enforced by tradition. In this, people who don’t mirror the white mans’ reflection are treated on a subhuman level in this country and across the world. These ideologies are repeated by policies, institutions and cultural views that encourage racist behaviors.

Rather than minimizing the narratives of people of color who have experienced oppression in this country, white Americans can take a different approach by viewing this divide of the nation as an opportunity to listen to these stories. A common mistake white people make is to offer solutions that come from a place of “privilege” which in short can be summarized as a lack of personal experience with the social issue of racism at large. This type of “whitesplaining” (white people’s explanation and oversimplification of these issues) are met with backlash because of the lack of personal experience with oppression. What the white community needs to do is acknowledge systematic oppression of black and brown people and take into account the individual experiences of people of color.

The core of ignorance is to ignore subjective experience. Our role is to affirm historical evidence of systematic racial oppression but not pretend to know what it feels like to be oppressed if we have not walked in those shoes. This country may never agree on subjective stories, but we must come together in the age of revolution and agree on the objective truths that exist. Truths which can neither be changed or questioned, like the right to have access to food, clean water, housing and dignity of self. An entire collective of people in our society are under distress, and they have the right to be heard, respected, protected, advocated for, and supported. This role cannot be fulfilled by any sector of the government; it can only be accomplished by everyday people like us. Having real conversations, building authentic community, friendships, and bonds that support each other through our pains and traumas to find a healthier balance in life.

Dear Revolutionaries

by Kayla Moon |

Stop going to meetings that have no concrete strategies; it’s not working. Stop marching on the street corners, put the signs down, politicians aren’t listening. Go home and start doing the work that matters. Invest in your families, your circles, and your places of influence.

Dear activists, stop killing yourselves for the revolution. If you haven’t slept in three days because of all the latest news, policies, protests, rallies and meetings and you’re beginning to see grey hairs sprout faster than the weeds in your backyard, stop. Also, stop with the pessimism and the doom. If activists and revolutionaries spent half the time building and creating what they wished to see, rather than talking about how corrupt and broken the system is, our problems would gradually dwindle.

Power grows when collective actions start breaking old habits and move away from the status-quo. Creating trendy signs is not going to solve our national and global problems. Activism and humanity as a whole must reach deeper levels of how we view and interact with our current reality. It appears to be a fundamental understanding that city halls are broken; state capitals are broken, America is broken. So, what’s our strategy to fix it?

The time has come to grasp these realities, start building and move on. Let our radical collective actions set the example of what we expect from both community and government. When you resist the structural oppression placed on society, we lose valuable energy in that fight. But if you turn your back and begin creating something new or hack into the system itself, a much more beneficial effect is gained over merely opposing the corruption.

Investing in local social support, innovation, productivity, and functionality is the only valuable solution. It appears, due to conveniently placed media coverage that the whole nation could crumble at any moment. We all watched as armed protestors with shields and masks swarmed to fight other protesters in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017. We witnessed the Woman’s March that gathered more than 2 million women nationally on January 21, 2017. The end conclusion of the Woman’s March was simply to send postcards to their representatives as the ‘call-to-action.’ Both of these protests (one peaceful and the other with the intent to cause harm) provided no tangible results.

In our present time, this may be an opportune moment to take a step back and ask: what does the progression of humanity even look like? Do images rise vividly in your imagination filled with feelings of comfort or does it include violence against someone whose beliefs or appearance differs from your own? Does it include the beauty of change, with empowered people coming together and building resources which meet the needs of their community? Or is the information era fueled by ignorance, confusion, and hate? Within the revolution that YOU envision, how are people treated? Are they treated with kindness and respect? Do you practice nurturing others in your daily life? When you imagine the evolution of a nation, what are the moral structures which allow harmony to exist? More importantly, do you practice harmonious methods of kindness and respect with your spouse, your partner, your children, your family, and your friends? Or is the drive for success and making a name for yourself in this lifetime so overpowering that you neglect your obligations to yourself and those around you? In being an American does your thirst for triumph drive you to oppress another or do you participate in this society with the intent to change the world for the better? Do you put in just enough effort to get what you need to survive or to contribute enough for the benefit of the collective?

I write with the intention to tell Americans that it’s ok to slow down, take a deep breath, self-inventory. As Luisah Teish would say “you gotta be willing to LIVE for the revolution, not die for it, honey.” Check-in, ask yourself why it is we can not manifest the society we wish to see? Could it be that we’ve invested our time, energy, and finances in all the wrong areas?

Here are a few examples locally and throughout the US of people who are creatively manifesting change either locally or globally on a daily basis.

Luke Rudowski – A Multi-Media Journalist and founder of Change Media University. Change Media University is a program that teaches people how to cover important events in their community adequately. Being a member allows access to the We Are Change network and introduces members to people around the world who find value in non-corporate media narratives and agendas.

Micah White – Co-founder of Occupy Wall Street and author of The End of Protest. Micah ran for Mayor in Nehalem, Oregon to experiment with rural politics. One of his views that have been highly influential is that activists need to start winning elections to change politics at its core.

Reverend Floyd Harris- Founder of The Freedom School, where students learn various subjects including automotive maintenance, culture, science, culinary arts, farming, journalism, personal development and more. One of Floyd’s influential factors pulls from the roots of the Black Panther Party. The Black Panther Party saw their children going to school hungry as a crisis. With a sense of urgency, the organization started a meal program that would later become implemented into the national public education system. It’s the simple concept that if your needs are not being met by the political structures that be, then create microsystems of functioning ones to tighten the degree of functionality in that region. Reverend Floyd is continuing this tradition in his community.

Desiree Martinez – Founder of the We Are Not Invisible Foundation, which serves the homeless community in Fresno, CA. Desiree’s organization advocates for the homeless via social media, local government, and California’s state capital. Desiree’s foundation also supplies Fresno’s homeless community with food, hygiene products, blankets, clothing and water year round.

There are millions of people around the world working for social and structural justice. Many may be in your community, and you just don’t know it yet. These are just four people who carry originality, creativity, and imagination as a driving factor in their lives. No longer can we continue to hold rallies for and with people who already agree with our message, or hold monthly meetings that go nowhere. And please leave the street corners alone and stop yelling at people who already agree with you about the broken system.

So where do we go from here? I encourage every reader to take into consideration that no matter who you are, whether you are a janitor, doctor, teacher, line clerk, chef, etc. to critically analyze what it looks like to be a facilitator of justice in your field. It may be as seemingly small as setting your phone down and having a conversation with the person in front of you. It may look like a weekly meetup group that plans monthly activities and workshops in your area or building an after-school program or writing a new curriculum in your place of work. It may look like community fundraisers, or help to create new bus routes. And if the city doesn’t comply with bus routes, maybe it sounds like setting up a volunteer system to get people to where they need to be. Only you know what you do best, so go out there and build something, be fearless in your inventions and solutions, our future depends on it.

Every role is vital, from the front line store clerks, teachers, the politicians who fight against corruption. Every part is necessary, but in the current political state, we profoundly and radically need to reassess what’s working and what’s broken. What can we build and what must be left in the past, what is genuine change and what is resistance? For the future of humanity depends on all of us being revolutionaries.