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Behavioral health fair goal to erase stigma against mental illness

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Department of Public Safety has found that mental illness can lead to more calls to the police and other negative impacts on the community.

The agency is working to connect those in need with available resources.

That began Thursday night at a behavioral health fair.

The goal of the fair was letting people know that there is help available for those struggling with mental health issues or those with loved ones who might need help.

Dolita McFadden struggles every day with her granddaughter’s mental health issues.

“She’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and ADHD and oppositional defiance,” she said.

She said her granddaughter often becomes combative and she’s called the police on many occasions.

“It’s a struggle for the whole family because it’s four of us that live in the home,” she said.

She said officers often want to take the 17-year-old to juvenile detention instead of addressing what she feels is the real issue, her mental illness.

That is part of what Dr. Allison Bordeaux sees as a problem for those like Dolita and her granddaughter.

It’s part of what her organization Community Health Network is working toward fixing through events like Thursday’s health fair.

“More awareness and really to overcome the stigma and how much mental health is stigmatized in our society,” Dr. Bordeaux said.

On a micro level, she and others in Indianapolis are trying to connect those like Dolita with resources.

“We are really wanting to get the awareness and education out there in regards to mental health conditions and substance use disorders,” Bordeaux said.

While on a macro level, working with schools and police in educating those who work with mental health patients.

“I think they need to be trained in working with kids with mental illness and the school and I think that would make everything a lot better,” McFadden said.

IMPD Chief Rick Hite spoke at the health fair about his commitment to mental health training.

He talked about his own experiences in the field dealing with witnesses who’ve gone through trauma.