The death of Jordan Neely is a tragedy that has once again highlighted the mental health crisis that is tearing through America daily. It is evident that Neely lived a much more difficult life than many of us could imagine, as homelessness is a plague that many Black men face today. Many people living with mental illness, particularly African Americans, are often neglected as their illness is not taken as seriously as it should be. This must change. The lack of mental health resources available to people in this country is a public health emergency, and one that needs to be addressed immediately.
Mental illness should not be treated as a crime. Instead, it should be treated with the respect and attention it deserves. The people who suffer from it should be met with understanding and compassion rather than being ignored, marginalized or worse still, subjected to violence. Mental health care must be prioritized as a fundamental aspect of healthcare that everyone has the right to access.
The choking to death of Jordan Neely is a devastating reminder of how easily an untreated mental illness can lead to irreparable consequences. Like many other people suffering from mental illnesses, Neely was not able to receive adequate care and support, leading him to act in ways he never would have otherwise. We know that mental illness is not something that can be simply cured overnight, but the government can ensure that people have access to the tools they need to begin their journey to a better life.
At a time when the medical community is making significant progress in the treatment of mental illnesses, it is essential that we not only recognize the gravity of the situation, but also equip and educate ourselves with resources available. Now more than ever before, the government must fund early interventions and innovative treatments. We must place the same emphasis on mental health that we do on physical health.
The death of Jordan Neely is an indictment of the systemic failure of our healthcare system to properly address mental illness. It is essential that the government and healthcare industries work together in resolving the mental health crisis in America. Until we do so, people will continue to suffer in silence for lack of support, and such tragedies as Neely’s will continue to occur. It is time we show the urgency this crisis deserves and take the necessary steps to address it head-on. We owe it to Jordan Neely, his family and countless others who have suffered in silence.
More about the author:
The world needs leaders like Imam Alfred Muhammed who is working within the African American community on issues of leadership, peace, and interfaith outreach. Imam Alfred has inspired inner-city youth to self-actualization, promoted healthy family relationships, and improved economic development in the Linden community. He is now fighting stage 4A prostate cancer and has been forced to limit his engagements while spending more than $70,000 on alternative healthy treatments. Please support him on his GoFundMe.