- Heloisa Villela
- From New York (USA) to BBC News Brazil
Anthony Amojera has been a firefighter paramedic in New York for 19 years. It helps folks with psychological well being issues each day who want remedy however are on the streets of the metropolis. He and his colleagues typically see the identical people who find themselves in and out of hospitals, however can not discover options to the financial and well being issues they face.
He appears at the drawback from two totally different angles. At the age of twenty, Anthony was additionally homeless. He spent just one evening in a shelter in New York. “They do not have sufficient employees to serve folks and the locations aren’t secure”, he says.
Anthony thought it finest to sleep in his automobile as a result of, fortunately, he had one. And that is what he did for 2 years. Today he responds to requires assist, which have gotten extra and extra quite a few.
Before the pandemic, there was a median of 3,500 to 4,000 calls per day. Today there are greater than 6 thousand and not less than 10% are as a result of psychological issues. Two months in the past, one of his co-workers misplaced her life making an attempt to assist somebody throughout a psychological breakdown. He obtained twenty stab wounds.
It will not be a standard prevalence. But he says paramedics are sometimes kicked, punched and bitten. Earlier this 12 months, Alyssa Go, 40, was on a subway platform at Times Square Station when a person approached her and pushed her in entrance of an oncoming practice. She died immediately. The man was admitted to a psychiatric facility. He was mentally unfit to reply the verdict.
Alarmed by this sort of phenomenon, the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, introduced his intention to gather folks with psychological well being issues off the streets to forcefully commit them to psychological hospitals. And he additionally mentioned that everybody who’s unable to fulfill their fundamental wants may even be collected.
The information sparked backlash from organizations representing the homeless and folks with psychological sickness. Last Wednesday (07/12), a number of teams gathered on the steps of City Hall to demand that Adams drop the concept.
Matt Kudish, president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), was one of them.
Kudish remembers a 1999 US Supreme Court ruling that states should take care of folks with psychological sickness in an built-in method in the group. That is, they can not preserve sufferers locked up in psychological hospitals.
The state has to ensure sufficient housing for these sufferers in order that they will reintegrate into society.
In observe, Matt says, hospitals have discharged these sufferers who’re on the street – however with out housing and situations to proceed remedy, they’ve the identical issues once more.
“What occurs is the method you take care of it’s like clearing snow,” he mentioned.
According to him, a homeless one who has psychological issues is collected by the police or hearth division paramedics when he’s in disaster. The individual spends a number of hours or a complete day in the hospital. He settles down a bit extra and goes again to the streets. The drawback would not go away, it simply repeats itself, he says.
Michael Anderson thus spent eight years in and out of hospitals. He was recognized with bipolar dysfunction and would periodically neglect to take his remedy, have a disaster, be collected and taken to a well being facility, and a day or two later the cycle would start once more.
But Anderson says he was very fortunate as a result of someday he was admitted to a hospital that solely discharged sufferers whose situations had been extra secure, with an opportunity of a remedy. After three months in the hospital, the metropolis discovered sponsored housing for Michael, and for 17 years he has lived alone, taken care of himself, and by no means wanted to be hospitalized once more. Today he works as a NAMI volunteer.
Jacqueline Simon, director of the Coalition for the Homeless, one of New York’s oldest organizations in the space, mentioned the homeless are sometimes the victims of crime, not the perpetrators.
“But the mayor continues to scapegoat the homeless and the mentally sick,” he mentioned.
She defends the have to increase psychological well being applications in the metropolis as a result of most of these most in want of assist would not have the monetary means to pay for remedy prices.
The United States doesn’t have a public well being system.
“In 2021, 93,925 adults had been half of the metropolis’s psychological well being applications, however solely 2,179 attended, that’s, solely 2.3%. The metropolis authorities ought to increase entry to psychiatric applications for many who need to search remedy”, he mentioned. .
On the steps of City Hall, Matt Kudish additionally gave a speech criticizing Mayor Eric Adams’ proposal. But he mentioned New York has a historic and distinctive alternative that can’t be missed.
“The mayor is not less than prepared to speak about it and it could be very unhappy to lose that chance.”
The group he heads has filed a court docket order stopping the mayor’s plan from being carried out.
At the identical time, the entity maintains contact with municipal authorities interlocutors in order that New York can type a gaggle of professionals in the discipline of well being and housing to arrange a extra humanitarian help plan.