Imadé’s Story: Finding Alternatives to Police Involvement in Mental Health Care

Date Posted

June 20, 2023


FFDA Staff


Imade Headshot e1689240683528

Therapist Talking to Client Police Involvement AlternativeImadé never imagined when she reached out for help with her mental health, she would be threatened with police involvement. 

At the age of 24, Imadé felt completely isolated and alone. Struggling to find employment, she thought she was burdening her mother. In an effort to cope with these feelings, she applied and was accepted to graduate school. Imadé thought her symptoms of depression would disappear once she had a clear path forward.

However, reality set in. Imadé realized that she couldn’t outrun her depression. She took the first step to get help by going to her school’s counseling office. Imadé expected to be offered a therapist. Hoping that would give her the support and professional care she needed. Instead, believing that Imadé was experiencing a mental health crisis, she was threatened with a police escort to the hospital.

Advocating for Alternatives to Police Involvement

As vulnerable as Imadé was at this moment, she knew that police involvement was not in her best interest. She was able to negotiate with the counseling office and decided that her next step forward would be to establish a relationship with a therapist.

From here, the path to mental wellness was far from straightforward. Imadé learned that she needed a strong support network to advocate for the mental health care she deserved. She realized that there were people in her life she could count on to provide her with support.

Family Support Was Critical

Despite undertaking therapy, Imadé’s symptoms worsened, resulting in a suicide attempt. With the support of her friends and family, Imadé looked for a higher level of care. Thinking it was the treatment she needed, Imadé sought out inpatient hospitalization. 

Imadé’s best friend went with her for her intake into the hospital. She felt supported and optimistic about what treatment would have in store. After being admitted, however, she quickly learned that this particular facility was not the right fit. 

Lessons From Imadé’s Story

For a person living with depression, having support in advocating for their preferred mental health care can help them to be heard by professionals. Imadé’s story demonstrates how family support can help with decision-making and advocacy. In retrospect, Imadé might not have had to face the threat of police involvement alone if she had turned to her family and friends earlier. Family caregivers can foster relationships and create an environment that makes it okay to discuss mental health concerns and ask for support. 

Imadé’s story also reminds us of the need for accessible education for caregivers so they can make the most of the mental health resources that are available to their loved ones. With education and determination, family caregivers can play a critical role in supporting their loved ones who are struggling with their mental health to find a path to wellness.

For resources on alternatives to police involvement in mental health care, visit

Imadé (ee-MAH-day) is a writer, mental health advocate, and founder of Depressed While Black®. She is a suicide attempt survivor who lives with clinical depression and borderline personality disorder. Imadé first developed Depressed While Black as her 2015 Columbia University Non-Fiction Creative Writing MFA thesis. Depressed While Black has grown into an online community and a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that donates Black-affirming personal care items to psychiatric patients and connects people to Black therapists.