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BREAKDOWN The Frontline Response to the Mental Health Crisis

The crisis grew quietly, across both sides of the Red River for the better part of a decade. Mental health resources, like in-patient psychiatric care, outpatient counseling, and access to affordable prescription medicine were drying up, just as record numbers of people were being diagnosed with severe mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia. As a result, local police officers and paramedics were getting called daily to serve as “street psychologists” for a growing number of people suffering from psychiatric emergencies. As the number of those encounters grew, local emergency rooms like LSU Health found themselves flooded with mental health patients brought in by first responders. Adding to the problem, police officers and paramedics admittedly lacked the training to deal with those suffering from mental illness.

“I think there continues to be a tremendous stigma attached to mental illness and many do not approach it as a true medical problem while it is very much so.” -Dr. Jacquelyn Bowers, director of emergency services for Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport

Then in 2020, the crisis exploded across television screens and became headline news when three men, all suffering psychotic episodes, died following violent encounters with Bossier City and Shreveport police officers. In the wake of the tragedies, one local police force and fire department took action, becoming the first agencies to provide their entire staff with mental health training, while another police department largely refused to openly address the problem.

But will the new training save lives? In an original, hour-long documentary film entitled "Breakdown: The Frontline Response to the Mental Health Crisis", which will air on KSLA on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021 at 6 p.m., Chief Investigative Reporter Stacey Cameron gets unprecedented access to the Shreveport Police and Fire Departments, seeing how their groundbreaking training is now unfolding. KSLA also hears from mental health experts with Brentwood Hospital and LSU Health to discuss their combined efforts to work with first responders to solve the evolving mental health crisis. And for the first time, family members of two of the men killed in 2020 speak in detail about their loved ones and the day they died.

Jeremy Fox, 42, (left) died Feb. 13, 2020. Johnathan Jefferson, 34, (right) died Aug. 8, 2020.

Jeremy Fox, 42

Johnathan Jefferson, 34

“My biggest worry is that I’m scared for other families that have somebody with a mental health problem or any kind of problem that if they have to call somebody and that happen to them. I’m worried about them, other people have to go through what I went through.” -Bessie Dew, mother of Johnathan Jefferson
Tommie McGlothen Jr., 44, died April 5, 2020

Tommie McGlothen Jr., 44

“Don’t get me wrong, somebody who has mental illness and is coming at you with a knife is no different than a man that’s drunk and coming at you with a knife… at that point. We need to get this to where it doesn’t get to that point.” -Capt. Tom Oster, Shreveport Police Department

KSLA's news and marketing divisions began work on this project in mid-November of 2020, with participation from Shreveport Police and Fire Departments, the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office, Brentwood Hospital, LSU Health Shreveport, Seedlinks Behavior Management, and HOPE Connections.

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

318.626.5597

1533 Marshall St., Shreveport, La.

318.670.4591

2350 Levy St., Shreveport, La.

877.678.7500 or 318.678.7500

1006 Highland Ave., Shreveport, La.

318.644.8830

9320 Linwood Avenue, Shreveport, La.

866.416.5370

1310 N Hearne Ave., Shreveport, La. | 210 Medical Dr., Natchitoches, La. | 502 Nella St., Minden, La.

1.800.273.8255

1.800.273.8255

CREDITS

Director | Stacey Cameron

Director of photography | Bubba Kneipp

Graphical producer and drone photographer | Mark Klein

Executive in charge of production | Sacha Purciful

Executive producer | Jayne Ruben

Digital producer | Rachael Thomas

Written, produced, and edited by Stacey Cameron

"Breakdown: The Frontline Response to the Mental Health Crisis" is sponsored by Brentwood Hospital