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When will we seriously deal with mental health?


I wondered if James Perry had read my book Ferguson is America. Perry was part of a panel discussing post-Katrina conditions on Melissa Harris Perry’s Saturday show on MSNBC. James is Melissa’s partner. As they talked about the mental health issues associated with black residents of New Orleans, James Perry referenced the work of Dr. Mindy Fullilove. Post Traumatic  Stress Disorder and Depression rates in young people are 3-4 times higher than the national average. I talk about Dr Fullilove’s concept of Root Shock and her ground-breaking work in my book and how black and poor folks in St. Louis have experienced root shock over generations. And still.

I was heartened to hear someone interrupt President Obama’s speech on Thursday when he visited NOLA. The President talked about the emotional scars many of the youth people were exhibited.

THE PRESIDENT: …Certainly we know violence still scars the lives of too many youth in this city.  As hard as rebuilding levees are, as hard as” —

PARTICIPANT:   “Mental health. Our children need mental health.”

THE PRESIDENT:  “I agree with that.  But I’ll get to that.  Thank you, ma’am.”

ME: Yes, Mr. President, when will we “get to that”?


Leslie Cunningham

I was watching on TV and was not able to hear the question but I heard him say “I’ll get to that.” As you say, he didn’t.

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