Attorney General Curtis Hill will host and deliver opening remarks at a forum next week about the intersection of law enforcement and mental health. The forum will take place from 9 a.m. to noon EST Nov. 19 at the Hyatt Regency Indianapolis, and will be live-streamed on the Herozona Foundation’s Facebook page

Joining Attorney General Hill at The Bridge Forum, titled “Beyond the Stigma,” will be U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who will deliver the forum’s keynote address. Adams earned his medical doctorate from the Indiana University School of Medicine and served as the Indiana State Health Commissioner from 2014 to 2017.

Dr. Benjamin Chavis, a longtime civil rights leader who was an assistant to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., will moderate a panel discussion about mental health amid the pandemic. The panelists are: 

  •  Virginia A. Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department 
  •  Ryan Mears, Marion County prosecutor
  •  David Certo, Marion County Superior Court judge 
  •  Jim Bontrager, Elkhart Police Department senior chaplain 

Chrystal Ratcliffe, president of the Indianapolis NAACP, and Anthony Mason, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Urban League, will be special guests at the forum.

“Police work by its very nature involves carrying out difficult duties that challenge the psychological well-being of even the strongest individuals,” Attorney General Hill said. “Every day, officers deal with community members facing their own serious mental-health issues, often in situations fraught with extreme stress and tension. One key to helping de-escalate potentially explosive interactions is to help connect all individuals — both police and civilians — with resources that help nurture and protect mental health. That’s one important objective of this forum. Let’s move beyond the stigma and make progress together.”

While it has long been important to encourage conversations surrounding mental health, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened many Americans’ mental health. Researchers at the University of Oxford found that nearly one out of every fivepeople diagnosed with COVID-19 has been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within three months of their coronavirus diagnosis. The World Health Organization says it is “normal and understandable that people are experiencing fear in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides support for people experiencing suicidal thoughts and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. Individuals who are experiencing domestic violence may call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). The United Nations says violence against women has increased during the pandemic.

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