Homeless Man Directs Traffic

Homeless Man Directs Traffic

By Trissean McDonald

Homeless individuals with mental illnesses are starting to become an epidemic in the city of Los Angeles, California for they are not receiving the proper medical attention simply because of their status.

On the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and 8th Street in front of Taco Bell, a homeless man who was mentally symptomatic began pacing back and forth in the middle of the street as cars had to avoid hitting him. The man was Hispanic who was shirtless, had on a black beanie, black jogging pants that he sagged slightly above the knees, and gray sweatpants he wore underneath the black jogging pants.

Drivers quickly became frustrated having to wait behind their steering wheel for the man to slowly walk away from in front of their vehicles. Several drivers sped up towards the man as a threat to get him out of the way, as others taunted the man with expletives and verbal threats. The homeless man would shout back at the drivers, even would hit and attempt to kick some of their cars.

The location where the homeless person stood became more dangerous by the minute. Therefore, he decided to relocate. He walked to Vermont Avenue and 8th Street where he stood in the middle of the street a while longer before walking across the street to the east side of Vermont Avenue. He stood in the middle of a sidewalk as pedestrians passed by. He spoke to some of them while others he verbally threaten. However, there were no physical threats imposed by any pedestrians or by the homeless man.

At one point, the homeless man even pulled down his pants to expose his penis. A police squad car horn sounded; however, police officials did not charge him with indecent exposure. There are obvious signs of mental instability that these type of individuals display to the public without having to be microscopically scrutinized. However, these individuals are regarded less as human beings. They’re constantly calling out for help psychologically; however, because some may not know how to express their concerns as the average person knows how to, a lot of these individuals will always be ignored as well as their needs unattended.


A Painted Brain Expands Creative Minds

A Painted Brain Expands Creative Minds

By Trissean McDonald

Environments for creative art where people that display signs of mental health differences in Los Angeles, California are starting to improve with the aid of Painted Brain and their sponsor Gather for Good, by hosting a pop-up boutique bake sale opened to the public.

Painted Brain and Gather for Good joined in partnership on Jan. 27, 2018 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. to aim at the goal of enhancing art space for individuals with mental health differences within Painted Brain’s Headquarters located on 5980 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, 90035.

Enlightening the minds of those who are mentally different, Painted Brain and Gather for Good strive to educate the public by exemplifying mental health differences do not make you a danger to society. A narrative told by the Painted Brain’s Headquarters with illustrations of elaborate paintings, sculpture figures, and even animated caricatures done mostly by the members of Painted Brain.

This event was lavished with desserts and other delicious foods, along with a mixture of artists and activists that supports mental health differences. Art was done by members as well as the public. And the proceeds from the day’s event, Painted Brain would receive in order to continue outside sources communication about the creative artwork done by its members.

Robby Lewis was a customer at the event, who was standing with friends and was amazed to know that the proceeds were going to Painted Brain. “I feel like art is a form of expression. It’s a good outlet for myself or anyone to express things that words cannot capture,” said Robby.

Face masks that were beautifully crafted by members of Painted Brain are mounted on one wall of the boutique. Painted Brain Headquarters is literally behind the boutique, hence the reason as to why Gather for Good and Painted Brain hosted the event, space isn’t enough.

Stephanie Garcia, a staff from Gather for Good, gave a reason for the partnership and proceed donation. “It’s good for us to do so that we know that [Painted Brain] is going to do something good with it for the community,” said Stephanie.

Art and food have a way of uniting people together with their force and power. They’re excellent contributors to assist in giving out good vibes, attracting anyone within the presence of their forcefield. William Gibbney was pulled in by the magnetic force of the event from the outside. He first visited the boutique, then eventually worked his way toward the back of the event.

“I was strolling along the street and I saw Painted Brain,” said William. He continued saying, “I spoke to this lady behind this desk, she was telling me that it’s kinda like a drop-in center. It’s sort of a community building project.”

William contributed to the event by purchasing vegan-friendly kombucha. He said that it is great for digestion. The beverage came in a variety of flavors. William managed to buy almost every flavor, if not all. However, he wasn’t the only person witnessed purchasing these drinks.

Norris Preston-Rakin is a vegan with several allergens. Majority of the food at the event had animal byproducts within them. “I’m a vegan, and I’m allergic to grains. Most of this stuff, I can’t eat,” said Norris. “I was going to get some kombucha. It helps with your probiotics in your intestines.”

Healthy food is essential for a stable mind and body. Gather for Good understands this imperative connection of the two; therefore, every item prepared at the event was essentially vegetarian and without preservatives to enhance the quality of the food.

Painted Brain, founded by Dave Leon in 2006, has continued throughout the years establishing partnerships with organizations that support the causes of mental differences. It’s a non-profit organization that receives fundings providing art group services and technical training to clients of organizations such as Step Up on Second, a mental health facility that specializes in mental health rehabilitation.

The overall mission of Painted Brain is to create a lasting community-based solution to mental health difference and to impact social injustice through arts, advocacy, and enterprise. This mantra lives on to this very day. And Painted Brain Headquarters welcomes the public, to experience the journey of changing the community perception about those who are mentally different.

Mental Health Training Is Not Benefiting Police Officers

Mental Health Training Is Not Benefiting Police Officers

By Trissean McDonald
Police involved shootings are becoming more frequent these days. In numerous cases, these shooting incidents are sometimes prompted by individuals that may be mentally impaired or disabled. 

On January 31, 2016, the Los Angeles Police Department, after receiving reports of a male suspect stabbing three people, opened fire on the man in Hollywood, California, where the suspect was pronounced dead.  

One of the victims, a bicyclist, was stabbed around 2:00pm along the north side of Sunset Boulevard near Ivar Avenue, according to LAPD Sgt. Frank Preciado. The suspect then continues down Sunset Boulevard, making his way to a coffee house, where employees held the doors closed for their safety. Unsuccessful in his attempt to get inside the coffee house, the suspect goes east of Sunset Boulevard, where he stabbed another man at a “Jack In The Box,” according to the LA Times.  

LAPD reportedly confronted the suspect. The suspect, however, was not compliant; resulting to multiple shots being fired at the suspect. “It saved lives,” O’Farrell.

The suspect’s outcome, as well as the victims involved was egregiously dire. Mental health in these situations usually doesn’t prompt an indication of these type of fatal incidents, lest the events subsequently subsides. Also, because of all the radical activities from ISIS.

However, is there a way to train police officials dealing with individuals with mental disabilities? Certainly. 

September 14, 2016, LAPD invited the media to participate in a mental health training program to give the media insight on how police officers are being trained to deal with mentally impaired or disabled individuals. However, these type of seminars could be a way to propagandized police interactions with those who are mentally despaired.

There’s signs indicating mental disparities in these individuals by scruple observation. Usually, the signs are alarming upon personal interaction between both police officials and mentally impaired individuals. However, fatal shootings are still increasing amongst these individuals.

As we saw in the case of Ezell Ford, a 25-year-old mentally illed black male, who was shot by police officials after allegedly reaching for an officer’s holster, “Ford, who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, was walking near his South L.A. home when two officers assigned to an anti-gang unit tried to stop him,” LA Times. Unfortunately, this incident led to Ford’s death. 

Even though the state of California , as well as other states are implementing changes within the relationship between police officials and mentally ill individuals, it may perhaps take several years for police officials to master the subject of dealing with mentally ill individuals to avoid more catastrophic fatalities within the mental health community. 

If there were perhaps an actual requirement for police officials to pass a 1-2 year course in mental health training before actually being assigned to on field duties, fatal shootings would be at a decrease, and more lives would be saved. 

However, until there’s some type of strict reformation assisting in proper mental health training amongst the nation’s police officials, America will not see less killings or more rehabilitation for those who are mentally ill. Instead, Americans will continuously hear the outcries of the nation, as well from the family members who are affected by the lost of their loved one that was mentally ill. 


Ralph’s-near Western/Wilshire 

By Trissean McDonald

The Painted Brain Academy has reached its last day March 25, 2016. The Academy decided to close out with a trip to a Ralph’s grocery store. However, it wasn’t the type of field trip that was expected. The actual atmosphere at Ralph’s, located at 670 South Western Avenue Los Angeles, California 90005, seemed rather hostilely defensive.

Hostile in the sense that, the store manager and security actually called authorities in front of me, without giving an actual reason as to why. Several employees made an attempt to stop me from collecting information related towards the homeless and mentally ill individuals that traffic throughout store, and how it actually affects the store and its employees.

However, I managed to speak with one anonymous employee, who was actually serving food at a cart vender. The employee stated that there’s not many encounters the she has had with homeless people or individuals she deems as mentally ill; nevertheless, she’s adamant about “treating people as myself.” Furthermore, she utilizes wisdom and “tries to discern” everyone’s potential dangerous quality she encounters.

It may be rather advisable for several of Ralph’s employees to start “treating others as themselves.” I haven’t violated any laws, but was continuously harassed both by the store’s security and manager. Unfortunately, the store manager removed his name from his nametag, making him seem rather anonymous. The store manager even went to extreme measures threatening to have me arrested, by calling local authorities that didn’t even show up.

The manager alleged that I was “harassing the customers” to authorities; nevertheless, not one customer was interviewed by me. Additionally, if an employee declined an interview, or was even busy, I kindly moved on to the next potential individual that was ok with being interviewed. Then, I realized if I was dismissed without question by the store manger, being a mentally ill individual myself, how are some individuals that are mentally ill or homeless treated when trying to hold a mutual conversation with another customer or employee?

Asking and probing for public information that’s not detrimental towards the store or employees, shouldn’t be dismissed without any given explanation as to why.
The Painted Brain Academy is a program that focuses on the tactics of photojournalism, journalism, and social media literacy.

Ralph’s Contact: 670 S Western Ave.

Los Angeles, California 90005


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Layers of Life

By Trissean McDonald

At the Painted Brain Academy on February 26, 2016, 2500 Wilshire Blvd. Los Angeles, California 90057, a group by the name of “Chicken Lobotomy” engaged in an experimental process that involved the actual dissection of a piece of chicken; the piece of the desired corpse, a chicken leg.

The “Chicken Lobotomy” microscopically examined the skin, the bone marrow, the actual bone, and muscle/meat of a chicken. Afterwards they posted their images on social media, with hashtag descriptions of what was viewed under the microscope. Their conveyable objective is to inform their audience of some of the imperative components of life’s make-up, in which on numerous occasions gets ignored or less attention.

For instance, bone marrow. The marrow of the bone is a key factor of blood cell make-up and distribution; however education surrounding the topic of bone marrow, is usually only available in the case of terminal illness. The bone marrow is a tissue that’s inside the bone, producing mature blood cells that passes throughout the whole body via the blood vessel’s endothelium. Without the bone marrow you’ll produce zero blood cells, the most important factor of life itself.

Additionally, the bone as well, plays a key role to life’s make-up. The bone is not only the home of marrow, it’s the home for multiple internal organs. Its functions are to support and protect various sensitive internal organs such as: the brain ( skull), the heart and lungs (ribs), and vertebrate (spinal cord). As a reminder, the bone produces red and white blood cells, and is also a connector of tendons, ligaments, joints, and muscles. These components work together to manipulate the entire body in a three-dimensional space.

Collectively, to bring everything as one body, the skin is the master component. The function of skin consist of protecting the body against pathogens: anything (such as a type of bacteria or a virus) that cases disease. Additionally, it aids in regulating temperature, pressure/vibrations, touch and tissue injury. Probably the most crucial function, it protects the body from excessive fluid/water loss by having a dry and semi-imperable barrier.

Lastly, the muscle. The muscle is the “soul” of life. Muscles are known for their two functions: involuntary and voluntary. Without muscles, the heart wouldn’t beat, the brain wouldn’t function, and the stomach definitely wouldn’t churn food. These are all involuntary functions. Some voluntary functions may involve flexion and stretching.

The Painted Brain Academy is an organization that focuses on photojournalism tactics, journalism, and social media literacy.


Epilepsy and Marijuana Therapy.

What’s Epilepsy?

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder in which the normal activity of brain cells are sometimes disturb. These abnormalities can cause convulsions, muscle spasms, and loss of consciousness. There are reportedly 50 million people worldwide that have epilepsy; it’s prevalent in childhood, adolescence, and old age. Epilepsy is reportedly the most common serious brain disorder worldwide. The disorder is classified into three types: idiopathic, symptomatic, and cryptogenic.
Reportedly 60% of people with epilepsy, have idiopathic epilepsy.
Idiopathic seizures, where there is no apparent cause, is possibly linked genetically. Symptomatic seizures are usually caused by widespread brain damage. Reportedly, those affected with these seizures, often have other neurological problems, such as mental retardation or cerebral palsy. Lastly, cryptogenic epilepsy are seizures with no obvious cause. Thus, the terms “idiopathic epilepsy” and “cryptogenic epilepsy” are sometimes used interchangeably.

Epilepsy and Marijuana Therapy.

Epidiolex, an investigative drug extracted from marijuana, that comes in a liquid form, has been tested on children with epilepsy. Reportedly, the drug does not obtain intoxicating properties, is a liquid made of a purified cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from marijuana plants, and is grown under license at an unknown location in Britain. “I was skeptical at first, but families are trying medical cannabis and it is working, including several girls with Aicardi Syndrome,” Polly VanderWoude said. Olivia VanderWoude, Polly’s daughter, has suffered uncontrollable seizures since she was diagnosed at 2-months-old. Olivia is now 3-years-old. Olivia has Aicardi Syndrome. Polly wants to give Olivia a marijuana strain rich in CBD, the major non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
“The Epilepsy Foundation is firmly committed to supporting physician directed care, and to exploring and advocating for all potential treatment options for epilepsy, including CBD oil and medical marijuana,” a statement from epilepsy.com. Reportedly, out of 151 patients in the safety testing for Epidiolex, 26 experienced serious adverse effect and two died, although GW pharmaceuticals said independent investigations found they were unrelated to the trail. In addition, the children in the study, were all receiving other treatment alongside the Epidiolex. Two of the patients were taken from the study because of “adverse effects” and another four due to a lack of clinical effect.
Marijuana and its components are classified as schedule 1 drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). Because of its label, it’s difficult to conduct research using marijuana agents but it’s not impossible. “I believe the Epidiolex has the potential to be an important advance in treatment for these treatment-resistant children and will likely have a significant role as a future therapy,” said Dr. Elizabeth Thiele, director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.
People with uncontrolled seizures live with continual risk of serious injuries and loss of life. In states where medical marijuana use is legal as a treatment for epilepsy, a number of people living with the disorder report beneficial effect, including a decrease in seizure activity.
Justin Gover, GW chief executive, said he expected Epidiolex would be ready for submission to US and European regulators in 2016. Reportedly, there are nearly 20 states with legal medical marijuana programs and approximately 13 pending legislation. Polly has become a robust advocate for the Compassionate Care Act, the legislation that would make medical marijuana legal in New York. “It’s incredibly frustrating when there is such wide support from the constituency base but the legislators are failing to act,” said Polly. She continues, “you can research cocaine but you can’t research marijuana?” -Eran “Trish”  McDonald *BRAZEN NEWS-FACEBOOK

NAMI walks October 11, 2014 Grand Park

By Trissean McDonald

This year’s NAMI walk was at Grand Park Performance Lawn at 200 N. Grand Ave. and 201 N. Hill St. With thousands of people coming together publicly to help break mental health stigma, today wasn’t only about walking. It was about hope, love, and valid information advocating support for those affected with a mental illness.

“NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nations largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected with mental illness,” a statement from NAMI. Several participants that were interviewed shared relatable stories of how NAMI impacted their lives.

Hedi Vasquez, expressed that NAMI has educated her in a lot of ways concerning mental health, and emphasized the free of charge services. Rosanne Spencer, after having a mental breakdown, volunteers at events such as NAMI walks to “pay it forward.” NAMI gave Rosanne hope, support, and love, and she pays it forward in return by volunteering.

NAMI offers family support groups, peer groups, mental health referrals, and updated facts about mental health news. Within the groups/courses topics varies from types of illnesses, to medications, to communicating about symptoms, to dealing with individual/family crises and recovery. According to a staff at the NAMI walk, Linda Kirkwood, those who want to attend the groups/courses will have to be consistent.

It’s a 12 week group/course that is mandatory. When asked why it was mandatory, Linda says, “the teachers are volunteers. They take their time out to inform those that are willing to be educated.” Linda additionally gave a testimony about her own son. She said that it was “devestating” when she found out he was affected with mental illness. However, through the Family-to-Family groups/courses she attended, light was shed on her perception about mental illness and she sees mental health differently.

By doing the walk(s), those that are mentally ill gain support by the public, they help break stigma, and give hope and aspiration to others affected with mental illness. The NAMI walk is essentially a fundraiser to support family or family members with a mental illness and raise public awareness. NAMI is committed to equipping and training grassroot volunteer facilitators who provide individual and family support groups in thousand communities across America and never grows weary.

Los Angeles, due to it’s big county, has 12 sectors.NAMI has many sponsors and political supporters that work diligently to help fund for events, inform NAMI of statistics, and help also to break stigma. Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles District Attorney, in a statement addressed at the NAMI walk said, $3million will go towards training police to better handle those that are affected with mental illness.

This issue may have risen concerns after an officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed a young black man (Michael Brown) known to be mentally ill. As the event came to a close, raffles were done, green ribbons were given out for Mental Health awareness week, and a celebratory drumming congratulating those that completed the walk.

NAMI do annual walks and each location is different yearly. If you’re interested to know future walks or events visit: NAMI.org. You can too help make a difference in breaking mental health stigma throughout America or your community.

Breaking the stigma of mental illness amongst family, friends, and peers.

By Trissean McDonald

Discovering the presence of mental illness and also having to live amongst family and friends that are aware of the diagnosis, is an insatiably difficult task. In most cases family and friends of those with mental illness automatically stigmatize or critically taint these individuals as incompetent.

However, these cynical expressions and/or thoughts are usually refuted. It has been reported that though some individuals are mentally ill, these individuals are still able to conduct daily activities, build relationships, complete work and/or scholastic academics/assignments, and live a prosperous life. “Being a ‘high-functioning’ bipolar, I’m not in a mental hospital and I do things like live on my own, pay rent, work, and whatnot,” a commentary from Natasha Tracy. Although this may in fact be relatable amongst many like Natasha, there is a large number of individuals that are not educated concerning the positive attributes of those affected by a mental disorder; thus, creating a world of ridicule and truculent stigma.

Stigmatizing all mentally ill people as incompetent is petulant and cynical. “Halle Berry publicly admitted attempting suicide after divorcing from baseball superstar David Justic, but stopped when she ‘had an image of her mother finding her’,” a quote from popcrunch.com. Although Halle Berry allegedly tried committing suicide, the actress has come to terms of coping with her illness, continues to work, and is a supporting mother. She’s recovered dramatically from her mental breakdown and still is. This illustration was only used to refute the thoughts of those prejudiced and uneducated of the recovery mechanisms one with a mental illness could use to continue conducting their lives productively.

“I (Halle Berry) believe in the triumph of this woman and I thought that if in some way it could shed light on the stigma of mental illness it would be a good thing for people to have a little bit more compassion for people who suffer,” a quote from contact music.com.

Some individuals with mental illness that do not seek professional assistance could be at high risk of suicide. In contrast, the ones that do seek professional assistance could bring down the mortality rate. An allege statement from save.org conveys that, “suicide takes the lives of 30,000 American every year. Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.”

It is pivotal of any individual to seek professional assistant if feelings of suicide arises. Although these individuals may feel or believe they will escape their pain with suicide, they often fail or choose not to comprehend the permanent pain they will inflict on others. However is it always their fault? To elaborate, some schizophrenics are driven by their own mind unconsciously into suicidal actions.

Additionally, some of the same individuals are paranoid of talking with professional assistance, family, and friends due to their mental illness/disorder possibly being stigmatized. However, these individuals tend to give warnings of suicidal idealization. Reportedly, noticeable signs will include: talking about death or wanting to die, feeling isolated or isolating one’s self from others, displaying mood swings, and behavior that’s irrational and/or reckless. The recovery process for everyone with a mental illness/disorder is absolutely different. Additionally, the process of recovery is highly opinionated and debatable.

Nevertheless, whatever approach that is taken should be conveyed to a physician and/or psychotherapist for professional advice and/or approval. After reviewing several lines of this informative article, perhaps you are interested in furthering your education on mental illness. How about ways of supporting those with mental illness? There are many outlets and nonprofit organizations such as: NAMI, Step-Up, DiDi Hirsh, and Edelman.

These organizations give a lot of valuable information ranging in family acceptance and denial, definitions of certain mental illness, resources for recovery, and peer groups to listen and share relatable and similar symptoms. In correspondence to these agencies, there is another agency called: The Painted Brain.

Within, The Painted Brain, members are usually mentally ill and express their recovery process in the form of art. The art could be poems, creative writings, photographs, drawings, paintings, and crafts. The Painted Brain, a non-profited organization, receives all sponsorships through charitable donations. Some of these sponsors maybe extremely well-known and some maybe not.

However, they all play a tremendous role as of helping to break stigma through a newspaper called: The Painted Brain Magazine/NewsPaper.
With the information given, one may possibly understand the importance of seeing everyone equally as a human being.

It should additionally assist one to remember that recovery is never far out of reach for those who seek it. The goal within this informative article is to dim the light on stigmatizing mentally ill individuals and treat them equally the same.