There is a lack of compassionate resources available to people with mental illnesses. Usually those resources are delegated to cops or ER workers, but they are not trained in how to properly deal with people in need.
A Redditor encountered this very issue with their neighbor. So they turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA For calling the cops on a mentally ill woman?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“I live by myself in a house in a very small town.”
“One night I was doing online school when all of a sudden this woman started violently banging on my door begging me to let her in. She said a group of men were after her.”
“She was screeching at the top of her lungs and I got so scared that I called the police.”
“They came and there was a bit of a struggle. They managed to subdue the woman and arrest her.”
“I found out there wasn’t actually men after her she was just mentally ill.”
“I told my friend about it and she told me what I did was kind of selfish.”
“She said police don’t treat people well who are mentally ill.”
“She said I should have called someone else. I feel kind of bad now.”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors agreed OP was not the a**hole.
“Ask your friend who ‘someone else’ is in this case. And what were you supposed to do with a complete stranger in your house who clearly has severe mental health issues? Like what if she turns on you and tries to assault you?”
“Police don’t always treat people the nicest way but if your friend thinks you should have done something differently she should give you actual suggestions not just say that you should have called someone else… NTA.” ~ sneeky_seer
“This is the answer. I didn’t know who to call, so I called the cops, tell me who is better to call so I can do that next time.”
“If they’re being an insufferable ass, it’ll shut them up. And if they’re genuine, you can figure it out together and actually have a better solution if it happens again. Which it might because cops really are terrible at helping people with poor mental health so she might come back again.”
“Edit: never mind, I read the other comments below. Your friend is insane and has not idea how the world works. Never take advice from that person.” ~ Ok-Scientist5524
“And, to be fair, most people call 911, which isn’t necessarily ‘the cops.’ If there were a better way to respond to OPs situation, I’d hope that the call takers could get the right people over there.” ~ dcviper
“And in a couple of cities, calling 911 will get a mental-health crisis team instead of the cops. Which is great.”
“OP is NTA. The AH is the system that means cops with guns are sent to people in crisis.” ~ PurpleMP12
It’s heartbreaking living in a country where we can’t trust the system to take care of the most vulnerable.
“Sometimes. My friend got arrested when he was at a hospital, had been diagnosed with mental health problems that caused hallucinations and delusions, and they took him to jail, where he died.”
“I’m glad that your police department had an actual plan/resources for this type of situation, but it’s pretty regional and also pretty based on race, gender and socio-economics.”
“This isn’t to say that OP did the wrong thing, they did the best with the information they had and the resources available to them. I’m just sick of these resources being harmful to many communities in the US.” ~ Uma__
“Police aren’t trained in mental health, but at least where I come from, they are trained in mental crisis intervention.”
“Meaning they can sort of identify when it’s a mental health issue and know to take them to the hospital for further assessment. They don’t throw them in the tank or in jail. They take them to the hospital.” ~ StGir1
“Came here to say this.”
“As an ER technician we have cops drop people off all the time who are having mental health crisis and someone called 911 on them. From the cops I’ve met (I’m not saying this is always the case) they actually treated them pretty decently as long as they weren’t attacking someone/were taking direction.” ~ Frampton24_7
“FYI fire department is not legally allowed to transport anyone, whether they want to or not. That is what ambulance and police are for. Also it is flagged by the dispatcher to wait for police, and they have to abide.”
“So it’s not just that they want the ‘cops with guns there,’ they are told to wait until police are on scene if violence is a possibility, as they have zero training in how to manage that scenario.” ~ Consistent-Basket330
Some cities are doing a better job.
“FINALLY – in Chicago, calling 911 can get you the Crisis Assistance Response and Engagement program (CARE team) when it is a mental health emergency, instead of automatically sending the cops.”
“The 911 operators determine which to send, which means that people like the OP don’t have to decide which is better if they cannot. (There is also the option to specifically ask for a CARE team if the caller is already clear on which is needed.)” ~ matthewsmugmanager
“The issue is also rampant gun ownership. When anyone can easily own a gun, you cant send your cops unarmed anywhere to do anything. It’s a chicken and egg problem really.” ~ quartzyquirky
“We had an influx of severely mentally ill people coming into the place I work recently and had to deal with this issue. We tried multiple different mental health crisis lines and such, and all of them told us the same thing: call the police.”
“Who then all told us the same thing: we can’t do anything if you don’t press charges.”
“It was incredibly frustrating and disheartening, because we did just genuinely want the people to be helped, and we did not have the capacity to do so. And yeah, the cops were kinda jerks the whole time, so we felt even worse, but there were literally no other options available to us.”
“There’s so much focus on ‘ending the stigma’ around people with mental illness, but the discourse usually ignores the fact that it’s often not safe for untrained people to try and handle those who are ill (and I’m saying this as someone with my own).”
“The biggest problem is the lack of resources, especially compassionate ones. I don’t blame or hate those who suffer from their illness, but the lack of ‘stigma’ from me doesn’t give me a way to handle someone that’s oscillating between trying to spend thousands of dollars she can’t afford to lose and throwing stuff at me because she thinks I’m an intruder.”
“As shitty as calling the police on someone sick may feel, until better services are available, it’s all that can be done.” ~ terraformthesoul
It is a complicated situation and knowing what resources are available and who to call isn’t well known by the general public.