Police brutality can take a toll on Black citizens physically, but it can also have a detrimental impact on our mental and emotional health as well. As cited in an ABC News report, the University of Pennsylvania examined the effects of police killings on Black communities between 2013 and 2016. Ultimately, researchers found that these killings can contribute to 55 million "poor mental health days" per year.
"Our estimates, therefore, suggest that the population mental health burden from police killings among black Americans is nearly as large as the mental health burden associated with diabetes," researchers added.
As a social worker in Brooklyn Center, Phoenix Robles is all too familiar with the effects of police killings in Black communities. Following the deaths of Daunte Wright and George Floyd, she has spent much of her time working to better her community. As she was traveling to the George Floyd memorial in Minneapolis, Robles was presented with yet another opportunity to help someone who was having a poor mental health day.
On April 18, Robles spotted a woman by the name of Dorcas Monari sitting in the middle of a local street. Monari was surrounded by police officers and Robles worried that the situation could turn deadly, so she began recording what was going on. Then, she made the decision to go sit with the lone woman.
“How you doing, sis? Are you ok? What's up? Can I sit with you?” she asked Monari.
Robles sat down with Monari and the two began having a one-on-one conversation. After spending some time talking, Robles and Monari shared a warm embrace and the two left the area.
“If someone's having a mental health crisis, the person on the opposite end and/or causing the trauma cannot dictate how the situation is going to go — we have to follow the flow of the person who is in distress,” Robles told Yahoo! Life.
“And if the person who is in distress is not causing herself or anyone else actual harm, then let her be.”
Robles and others did not that having officers and EMTs crowd around Monari was no way to help deescalate the situation. Thankfully, no one was hurt or injured during the incident. In the end, Robles's decision to make time in her day for Monari possibly saved her life.
"What we are experiencing right now is harrowing. We can't even get through a success without the murder of two Black babies," she explained.
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