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Mental Health Inequality

by LillyWinchester13, 25 Oct 2020

I moved to Edmonton 10 years ago. In the words of my mother, I was "vibrant, outgoing and bubbly" much of that is gone now.
Over the last 4 years, I have had numerous encounters where I have asked the EPS for help, the discrimination ranged from simple disregard of how I pronounce my name to full-on denial of service due to the number of calls. The most serious of all is in 10 years the EPS has failed in the shutting down of a "thorn in the city's side" which is contributing to the exploitation of vulnerable indigenous communities through the distribution of illegal drugs, alcohol and aiding in the prostitution indoustry. As a white Non English born female, I faced my own discrimination based on my mental health, my Nationality and just being a female. No woman should ever be told that she looks like she is desperate because you pulled her out of bed and she hasn't had time to do more than put pants on with her nightgown.
No person should have to face psychological evaluations because they are calling for help just because the occurrence isn't happening in the moment the officers are there but there is ample proof that IT WAS HAPPENING. No person should who is asking for help from abuse should then be asked to take a polygraph test for minor damages to a car. What about asking them for a polygraph test for the MAJOR damages to my physical and mental health.

No person should have their privacy blatantly violated by being videotaped through their living room window to call on the police for help only to be told " is there anything you did to get her down here" "Perhaps she was just trying to document things for her own files". Last I checked unless she has my expressed permission to come onto my property and take pictures of me though my living room window it is called "Trespassing and Violations of Personal Privacy" when I asked her what she knew about personal privacy and the law, she admitted to me she "didn't know anything about privacy laws" How can you uphold the law if you don't even know what it is? How are you an officer? How is it that I a civilian with more time on my hands than I know what to do with know the criminal code better than you do who is a paid professional? Or id the question not that you did know the material but rather when you choose to enforce it. I thought police officers were supposed to be impartial, yet with all my dealings with them, they chouse the word of a family over the word of a woman on disability.

No person should have their complaint dismissed because the superior officer the officer who you caused and a partner are standing there facing you and the Sargent says "you didn't really mean to put in that complaint, you were just frustrated at the situation, not at my fine officer here"
I believe it is the perception, stigma, and prejudice around mental health and what mental health really means that has led to the PSB complaint and HR complaint that I had to file against the EPS. I believe it is also the same perceptions that hurt the credibility of what could be value witnesses in court. Why should we believe if the police do not?

It is my desire to bring an understanding of the vulnerability and strength that people with mental health diagnosis can bring both to the community and to the EPS.
As a single woman living with disabilities, as many women in my position, I am vulnerable to physical as well as psychological abuse. That abuse can come from directions other than friends and family it can come from business, a neighbourhood, and community environments including the EPS.
I believe I can help bring in a unique perspective and narrative to the needs of people with mental health diagnoses in particular women. I can offer both how I was affected by my dealings with the EPS and how they can be prevented in the future.

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Admin Commented Yasin Cetin 2 months ago
Thank you @LillyWinchester13 for sharing your story. The struggles people face in managing their mental health are real and challenging. It's sad that it is made so much worse by people who show a lack of empathy or understanding. 

Thank you @Vicki_e for your comments and for the support you provide to so many people. 

As EPS rolls out programming and training on how to better work with folks who experience mental health challenges, we will be sure to keep you posted.  
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Vicki_e 3 months ago
Having worked with marginalized populations for almost 20 years, I can say this story does not completely surprise me. Over the years it has been my experience that unless someone like myself is there to advocate for an individual they are rarely taken seriously. In one case an officer was trying to get a woman to give a witness statement for an assist she didn't witness. She clearly had mental health issues and was trying to get away from the officer as she was scared. The officer was getting angry with her. I had to step in and explain she had come upon the assault victim after I did, and it was sometime after the incident took place, and pointed out that she had mental health issues. It was only after that he was able to stand back and see what I was talking about. I am grateful the officer was open to listening to what I said, as that has not always been my experience.
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