A Letter from the President

August 1st, 2017

NAMI Santa Fe is saddened and disheartened about the recent fatal police shooting of a mentally ill individual in our community. When a tragedy strikes, it shakes our confidence in the order of things – something in our mental health system went terribly wrong.

Clear facts in tragedies often emerge slowly. We can’t speculate about exactly what went wrong through the news media or rush to judgment about it. However, it does seem clear that Mr. Anthony Benavidez was receiving mental health treatment and had had contact with various organizations, including the police, our local hospital and his managed care organization.

Sometimes when tragedies strike close to home, we tend to avoid the anxiety they produce – especially if it didn’t impact our family personally – but that doesn’t help our community heal or fix the problem.  This young man could’ve been any of one of our family members.  In a way, we’re all traumatized by that possibility.

It’s vital for communities to come together to reestablish a sense of trust and unity.  Being present with each other within our small community, “gathering around” so it speak, and offering ourselves to listen to shared experiences may help us heal, but it might also be the catalyst for change.  Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a tragedy for change.

NAMI Santa Fe held an open forum on Saturday July 22 to allow people who have been impacted by less-than-optimal access to mental health care to talk about their experiences so that we could document those incidents and inform our community leaders.  Our hope is that those who have the authority to make changes will hear us and make the necessary improvements so that another life is not taken. NAMI’s mantra is “we will never give up hope.”

Betty Sisneros Shover

NAMI Santa Fe – President