There was already a mental health crisis in America before the outbreak of COVID-19. To make matters worse, our country’s largest mental health care facilities are jails and our legal system targets, criminalizes, and abuses those experiencing mental illness or addiction and those who have a history of generational trauma caused by America’s foundation in violent and oppressive culture. 

Now faced with the unprecedented effects of this pandemic – economic crisis, unemployment, death, sickness, isolation, and anxiety – we need to ensure our local, state and federal governments and communities prepare for the long-term effects of this pandemic on the mental health of the most vulnerable in our country. We need to ensure that people are not being criminalized, arrested, abused and killed by police and incarceration for problems that should be handled by health care.