In opening our church’s free mental health clinic, we are filling a void often left unattended by the Black clergy.
Last month, a black man in Cleveland shot a random, elderly man on Facebook Live after a conflict with his ex-girlfriend. Friends and coworkers of shooter Steve Stephens mentioned the man’s history of behavioral and mental disorders, but in the days following the story ― even after the shooter committed suicide ― his mental health went largely disregarded and unreferenced.
Compare this to the media coverage of Dylann Roof, a white man who killed nine black churchgoers in cold blood in 2015 ― where, almost immediately following the shooting, psychiatrists were brought on air to discuss possible diagnoses, and headlines like, “Why didn’t anyone help Dylann Roof?” and “Mental Illness Common Thread for Mass Shootings” were everywhere you looked. This is not to dismiss the cold, callous nature of the Cleveland shooter’s actions, but to point to an inconsistency that must be addressed.
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