We intend to bring professionals to where the mentally-ill can be found, rather than expect the mentally-ill to go to them.
On March 22, 2010, Jack Dale Collins, a homeless man with certified mental health issues was shot to death in Portland’s Hoyt Arboretum by a police officer who maintained Collins had charged him with a knife. In the days before his death Collins had evidenced much agitation and distress over his life’s circumstances, and the March 22 incident was widely judged to be a “suicide by cop.”
Eleven days prior, Collins had even gone to the Portland Police Bureau to confess to a vaguely remembered crime he had committed decades before, and he explicitly requested mental health treatment. The officer who talked with him recommended a local community mental health clinic; however, there is no evidence Collins ever followed up on the suggestion.
Therein lies the (literally) fatal flaw in our current mental health delivery system for homeless and otherwise isolated low-income people: while services may exist, accessing them depends on the initiative of the affected person him/herself. Given the nature of severe mental illness—depression saps all initiative from an individual, while schizophrenia adds confusion and paranoia to the mix—expectations that the sufferer shoulder responsibility are hardly realistic.
Our goal is to have on-site trained and certified mental health professionals to attend to the needs of those who frequent the Nightwatch Hospitality Centers (an average of 185/night). Not only will the professionals be available to intercede when crises arise, but s/he will be present to counsel our guests who routinely cope with mental illness in monitoring and assessing their conditions (possibly leading to further referrals). As this staff member will be a part of the “Nightwatch community” centered around the value of hospitality, we anticipate s/he will come to be sought out because of the trust invested in him/her.
ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION
We are committed to hospitality for low-income and homeless people by providing safe spaces to build community and receive basic services.