“Disturbance with a mental”

That is how a Chicago police officer would receive a call from the dispatcher for service when dealing with an individual in need of psychiatric care. For example:

Dispatcher: “Car 423.”

Police: “423.”

Dispatcher: “423, take a disturbance with a mental at (Address). Complainant unknown. No further information.”

Police: “423, 10-4.” Meaning the car is a two man car and has accepted the call.

“A Mental” is not a very nice way to describe a person in crisis; in fact it’s extraordinarily derogative. But that’s the way it is currently done. It’s unfortunate because it sets a negative and insulting tone immediately. The officers responding are already in the mindset that the individual in question is a criminal, rather than a person in need of care.

The police deal with the worst of citizens’ lives. They are not called to be thanked for their service and invited for a cup of coffee. Walking through people’s shit day in and day out will change a person. After a while, police no longer respond to people, but to a “call of service.” Being called to visit a person with such a negative title, will only have a negative effect on the officer’s reaction to the scene. As of 2018, Lt. Ursitti, Director of the Chicago Police Crisis Intervention Team, is working on an alternative way to dispatch a call for psychiatric help.


Why have a website?

Mental illness carries a huge stigma. It can be a devastating disease. Let’s face it. We all know of someone who, in the throws of depression, found suicide to be the only option. People are afraid of mental illness and of the consequences one may face when living with one. So, when someone is afraid of something, they prefer not to talk about it. Not to listen about it. “If I ignore it. It will go away.” That seems to be the common attitude. Disturbance With a Mental .com is a safe haven to discuss the effects of living with a mental illness by use of poems and short stories about my life and my experiences when dealing with people who either have an illness, or have a loved one living with a mental illness.


About the Blog

Every two weeks I will post a new poem or short story. People can read it and make comments. The comments can range, well, pretty much anywhere. One could talk about the work itself. You know, writing style etc. or one could comment on how the work affected them emotionally. Did it connect to how you feel at times? Does it help you to understand what someone living with an illness is going through? Whatever you feel. I will read them all. The plan is after two weeks, I will comment on the blogs and give my reasoning behind the work. I will then post a new piece and we can start again for the next two weeks.


About the Author

I am a Chicagoan and have spent most of my life living on the Southwest side of Chicago. I have had many occupations and experiences, one of which is being a Chicago Police Officer. My current duty as a police officer is as a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) instructor and Critical Response Unit (CRU) officer. CIT was created in Memphis, Tennessee in response to a deadly encounter between police officers and a suicidal individual living with mental illness. As an instructor, my team and I teach fellow police officers from Chicago, neighboring suburbs and local universities communication skills designed to help build rapport and calm an individual in mental crisis. As a CRU member, my team will respond to situations that call for more teamwork or communication skills, such as a hostage barricade situation. In a case such as that, we would act as a source of reference for the negotiator.

I have been married to my high school sweetheart for the past 30 years and I love her still. I have four children, all boys. One of my sons lives with schizophrenia. I am one of four children, two of whom live with bi-polar disease (me being one of them.)  I work with people living in crisis because of their mental illnesses and I, myself, live with one as well. I see the stigma everywhere I go. I see the way people deal with the homeless on the streets of Chicago. I see people refusing to accept the fact that a family member or loved one may have a mental illness. I see people afraid to seek help because of fear or intimidation caused by stigma. One in five people live with a major mental illness. Mental illness effects all our lives, yet people are frightened by it. People are ashamed to have it. People refuse to accept it. And the stigma grows.