Support Equity and Justice at the Connecticut Mental Health Center

Support Equity and Justice at the Connecticut Mental Health Center

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New Haven Community Members started this petition to DMHAS Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon and

We, the undersigned New Haven community members, demand the immediate elimination of the Connecticut Mental Health Center (CMHC) Metal Detector Policy Guidelines for Police Personnel 1.1.26 set to be effective on 4/15/2021. Its purpose is to “ensure that no person(s) enters the CMHC in possession of a weapon, dangerous instrument, or contraband” and its intent is “to provide the safest possible environment for health care delivery.” 

We see this policy for what it is: a veiled attempt for more complete surveillance and control of our Black and Brown communities seeking healing and care. Police and surveillance do not belong in places of healing. This policy upholds racism while masquerading under the guise of “safety.” 

CMHC is a safety net hospital, providing recovery-oriented mental health services for over 5,000 people in the Greater New Haven area each year. CMHC serves a racially and ethnically diverse population. Many of the  people coming for care at  CMHC face structural violence on a daily basis and do not have access to resources to meet  basic needs for food, housing, and healthcare. Furthermore, by virtue of their vulnerable socioeconomic status and government insurance card, CMHC’s clients possess few options to advocate for themselves by accessing alternate, less discriminatory clinics to receive outpatient mental health treatment.

This new policy requires all persons entering CMHC to place their belongings onto a conveyor belt of the X-ray style metal detector and then subjects them to pass through a metal detector, a handheld metal scanner, or a pat-down. Not only is this a profoundly degrading experience, it is also not evidence-based. Metal detectors are used disproportionately in schools and clinics in Black or Brown communities. But there is not conclusive evidence that metal detectors actually increase the safety for staff or community members. Research in schools has shown that medical detectors can make students of color feel less safe and can reinforce racist ideas that Black and Brown people are “dangerous.” 

This policy upholds white supremacy and  is cruel, inhumane, harmful, and stigmatizing toward our Black and Brown communities. It is the antithesis of the “trauma-informed care” we supposedly promote. The installation of multiple surveillance technologies at CMHC’s front entrance stands in stark contrast to local outpatient clinics which tend to serve White patients with private health insurance, many of which are within a few blocks from CMHC. These outpatient health clinics are free from the prison-like surveillance measures being implemented at CMHC, which reinforces the stigmatizing notion that CMHC patients should be uniquely feared in New Haven, instead of healed.  

This policy was presented as an antiracist initiative to remove and disarm police officers from the front door, but it is clear from the policy that these “Building and Grounds Patrol Officers” are functional equivalents to police, in addition to the armed DMHAS Police Officer presence, who are themselves called to the scene should any prohibited items be found or the metal detector be activated. Individuals are still subject to criminal proceedings and removal from the premises when interacting with “Building and Grounds Patrol Officers.” We support and endorse the YSM Demands, highlighting the demand to eliminate guns, law enforcement personnel, and violent restraint from all clinical settings at YSM and YNHHS.

Finally, we boldly expose the discrepancy between CMHC’s slogan of being an “antiracist organization” and how its leadership chooses to spend the state’s limited healthcare funding. DMHAS is prioritizing the expenses of a new conveyor belt, x-ray machines, handheld wands, and other securities measures in addition to costs of salaries, retirement funds, healthcare insurance, and recruitment of an entire new arsenal of “Building and Grounds Patrol Officers.”  These expenses are being robustly funded, while items necessary to fulfill CMHC’s primary mission of providing excellent and equitable mental health care are being neglected and ignored.  This includes the persistence of paper charts instead of upgrading to EPIC to facilitate YNHH-CMHC communication when our clients seek care at YNHH, broken healthcare equipment like EKG machines, outdated facilities in the main building, and the persistent and inequitable discrepancy between the resources available to our government-insurance clients versus  those who were born with access to a private insurance card.  We assert, and medical literature supports, that countless more lives are being lost and harmed because of substandard care delivery systems and errors in communication between YNHH and CMHC than any number of harms caused by weapons or unsafe materials entering our premises. Furthermore, a truly antiracist organization must ensure funding and protected physician time to ensure equity of inpatient medical treatment when our clients are hospitalized across the street at YNHH.  The presence of prison-like security at the front entrance of our clinic sends a message to the greater Yale University and YNHH community that our clients are to be feared instead of equitably and safely treated, thereby directly contributing to patient harms and death from well-documented stigma and bias against patients of color and those with mental illness when seeking medical treatment.  This is not the face of an antiracist organization.

We demand town hall conversation(s) with you BEFORE these policies are implemented without fear of retaliation. We demand that you instead fund initiatives that are truly antiracist; examples include medication delivery and crosstalk across institutions via adequate electronic medical records and liaison services that uphold the standard of care and promote healing, not harm.

Click here for a full list of signatures that will be updated daily: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1m3A1r9lMC46h2IweSoc6clWJMKTUBE34y55xU8iLNDs/edit?usp=sharing

 

 

 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 500!
At 500 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!