A Montana Community’s Plea For Help. How Can This Be Justified?
Over the weekend I was reading about one of the, in my opinion, most unlogical solutions I have ever heard of. It is no shock that Indian Reservations are unfortunately the underdog when it comes to mental health and this is concerning. Indian Reservations, in a nutshell, have their own set of laws, meaning there are certain laws that they can have, and a town not on a reservation that could literally be one mile away, does not follow.
I understand this for the most part, but when do those laws, that are not positive for the community get overturned? The number of missing indigenous women increases every year and I partially blame the lack of media coverage for this, but there is clearly a bigger issue at large.
Recently I learned about a policy that is followed by the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes and to be perfectly honest, it brought tears to my eyes. Because here is the thing, I just do not see how this "policy" is effective in the long run. In fact, I don't see how it is helpful in ANY mental health situation. But then I think, what other options does this Tribal community have?
Here is the policy: law enforcement is under orders to put members who threaten or attempt suicide in jail or juvenile detention to prevent another attempt. Is this really the only safety feature that the tribal leaders could come up with? This policy has been in effect for 11 years, numbers are increasing NOT decreasing when looking at suicidal thoughts, attempts, or intentions, so is it really a useful policy? In my eyes, no. But what else do they do?
What other options does the tribe have? They have funding set aside for hiring, but no one is applying. For one, it is over an hour drive to the nearest "superstore", and there are no psychiatric facilities and if there were to be a facility, would they have the appropriate staff to work there? It is the type of crisis that no community should have to deal with.
I have worked in a youth treatment center, and I can tell you right now from first-hand experience, there is NO WAY in H*** I would think jailing someone who is asking/seeking mental health help is logical. There has got to be a different solution. I feel like the tribe has a group of residents now that are taking this "policy" seriously and pushing to find a solution.
Spreading the word about this policy and getting it as much attention as possible is one of the ways we can help. Help with hiring the right mental health workers so the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe can receive the help their tribal community so desperately needs.