By Oliver Thomas
New Orleans is one of the most interesting places in the world. Although a small southern city, New Orleans has had some of the biggest big city problems for a very long time. It’s been stated that even when folks thought New Orleans was safe (The Good Ole Days) it was several times more violent than most cities it’s size. Simply the Big Easy ain’t never been easy for far too many!
We do however continue to talk about what we need to do to get it right. Hire more police, educate our children better, pay our people living wages, provide affordable housing, elect the right leaders, diversify our economy, etc. etc.. And these conversations have gone on for decades and will continue unless our citizens and our business and political leaders engage in meaningful dialogue about how we value our citizens differently! As someone who has been on both sides of these efforts and past discussions, I can say New Orleans citizens have never been the primary focus of what we call SUCCESS.
The disparities can widen, wages can be stagnant, crime can continue its roller coaster ride from one decade to the next without much worry as long as tourism and the political status quo remain in place.
Well what’s obvious to me is that mental health and trauma have never been a priority in this city or state. Bobby Jindal did nothing to help mental health and trauma in this Louisiana, but he defunded something that was never really a priority anyway. Those jokes we heard as children, “we’re gonna send you to Mandeville or the 3rd Floor of Charity”! It’s always been a JOKE, and our lack of funding and resources have been laughable at best.
Think about it!
A history of legislative cuts to health care and educational Institutions. The use of mass incarceration, and the criminal justice system to,” detain and hold“ those in need of medical treatment. If this has been our best practices when our citizens have needed resources and transformational solutions why would we be surprised that some people may suffer severe psychosis, but in New Orleans if you have mental health issues in this city, you and your family can expect very little support.
Floods, hurricanes, French Quarter fires, natural disasters, crime, murder, to the pumps don’t always work. We have been through it all without a real sanity check-up or someone just asking,” Hey are You Okay”! No, I’m NOT! I have never been okay, my children aren’t okay, my economy isn’t okay, and though you already know that, you’ve chosen to ignore me, because you already had places for me – prison, the morgue, the unemployment line, your rearview mirror.
If New Orleans were truly mentally well, we wouldn’t lead the nation and the world in so many social ills. But we deal with it cause we’ve learned to fun and festival our way out of any real investments and solutions for our people.
The New Orleans Way!
- Somebody Dies, have a Second Line.
- Protest low wages, let’s dance in the street.
- Can’t diversify our economy, have another festival.
- Need more people to vote, hot dogs and a band.
- High blood pressure and obesity, you get to use their Louisiana Purchase Card to buy more crawfish more days a week!
- Really these are solutions for a population who’s physical and mental wellness we don’t value.
It is obvious there is something amiss in how we do our business, how we govern and how we think. If we recognize this and know this let’s not make mental health and trauma merely a trendy conversation.
Let’s Get This Right!
Let’s make FIXING Mental Health and Trauma a Way of Life!