Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas episode 5 recap: Bank Problems, Mosquito Problems, Mental Health Problems


Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas focused this week on three types of pesky problems — those dealing with money, the stresses of the mental health crisis, and actual mosquitoes.

Most people believe that more money would equal less stress. If only something would come along and make money just one less thing, all Forrest Gump like. However, those wishes are just a mirage, making us crazy. Stressing about money will be a lifelong issue for all but the one percent.

One of the worst problems people have with money is actually finding it. In lower-income communities, banks have shuttered their doors in alarming rates since the 2008 economic downturn. Banks have cut some losses by only having branches in more affluent communities.

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By doing so en masse, however, the banking industry has compounded one of society’s problems at a faster and more worrisome rate then they compound interest. By leaving poorer and rural areas, the industry has created banking deserts.

It is bad enough that the working class now lives check to check, or worse. As the banks close these community locations, the working class must travel further just to access the larger banking apparatus. Many have just an ATM, and those can get expensive. The ATMs charge a fee on one side, the banking institution charges fees on their end, and the middle-class working man is squeezed again. Five dollars to access $20 is a bit steep.

While technology has made banking and money a more digital experience for many, millions are still without a way to even use phone apps. How can one deposit money in a bank when there are none in the area? People on food stamps are even taxed for using their government-issued benefits cards to the tune of millions of dollars wasted just on fees. Kids of single parents are going hungry while the ATM companies get fat on fees.

The citizens are yet again getting robbed by the banks. Government funds meant to help solve problems are being siphoned away from those that need help most. Without that help, people can get desperate and make rash decisions. There is a solution though with the infrastructure already built and the test case proven in America for decades.

Every area has a post office. Post offices in America used to serve some basic banking services through the 1960s. Many businesses, including banks, are leaving lower-middle-class America. The post office could serve several community services, giving taxpayers more return on their investment. The only other presence in these communities is dollar stores. And those bloodsuckers just send the money out of the community.

Speaking of bloodsuckers — Mosquitoes. Seriously, they are a pest. They spread malaria, and other stuff too, but Cenac really wants us to know about this malaria thing. It kills way too many people, especially since we now have a cure.

When scientists first starting looking for a cure, they found nothing but the start of a fashion revolution. The road to curing malaria took a turn and now we have Fashion Week and Yeezy’s. Both of which need to be policed, judging by headlines.

In a year, there were 173,000 calls to New York City police for situations involving mental health issues. In Dallas, Shirley Marshall had to witness her child being shot after calling the cops out of concern for her son’s safety.

She described the situation and her son’s diagnosis, specifically requesting that officers trained with mental health cases be dispatched. Still, her son died from wounds caused by a cop’s bullet.

People are showing concern, finally. Citizens and police departments are learning that they cannot send cops as the first response. Individuals that need treatment for a cornucopia of issues do not need PTSD around police for the rest of their life just because an untrained officer was dispatched. Most of these individuals need treatment not arrest.

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Police officers have legitimate claims to having PTSD themselves. Being called to sort out mental health crisis situations is not a police officer’s job. Cops hate the calls; it makes them uncomfortable.

Also, it can feel like a waste of time. Physical wounds are easier to judge. Dealing with several situations a night can build up tension, enough even to lash out at 13-year-old autistic kids.

Cenac is joining the voices calling for a softer approach. When cops request more backup for a mental health call, that help should be a psychiatrist, not more and bigger guns. There is no reason to lead with weapons at a suicide call.

The Los Angeles Police Department has created SMART teams, which are available with a therapist and officers in not threatening uniforms. Now, when family or friends call concerned for a confused individual, there is a program in place to respond in a more compassionate manner.

If officers on the scene determine this is a mental health call, the triage unit with mental health professionals are dispatched. Especially in Hollywood, appearance is everything. These officers in different uniforms do not have the imposing tool belts and bulletproof vests with combat boots.

While the approach is working, the SMART teams made it less than half of the mental health calls in a given year.

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The LAPD Union, led by an 18-year vet, wants people to understand the police officers perspective. Law enforcement officers admit they are not psychologists. When LEO’s are told of violent behavior, they are on alert. Most officers called to a scene prioritize isolating and containing any person deemed a threat to themselves or others.

An erratic individual is best detained peaceable, but there is not always time. Nor is there proper training to identify and communicate with those suffering from mental health issues.

SMART teams help even when individuals are going to be arrested or placed on a mental hold. If a cop does not have to physically extract someone, but rather a therapist can talk them out of their barricaded room, it is safer and calmer for all involved.

Is the money there? Of course, there is. The political will of the people has led to the budget we have now. As the problem takes more of a toll hopefully society will dedicate the resources necessary so SMART can answer more than just less than half of all mental health calls.

With more success, it will be recognized that these mental health teams should be formed in more departments. The success will also lift spirits and alleviate stress on both sides of the issue.

Cops can develop PTSD from dealing with the worst situations in society.  Most people will barely even read the news. Those that do pass over a gruesome story resulting from a family dispute or mental issue recognize the incident is terrible and move along.

Police officers live that throughout a shift, and the variance between calls just on one shift is drastic. Months and years of blood and spouses yelling will wear down the best of men. And then those men get dressed to police the city. Yes, since cops are not expected to show compassion and empathy’ on the job, eventually it leaks over into their home life.

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Who would want to tell their significant other that they see terrible things every day? Police officers are trying to make sure their family never has to experience the situations that cops deal with on a routine basis.

The less fortunate on skid row would just like to be treated as a human, and not roughed up by every badge that walks by. A kinder, more gentle touch to policing could lead to better outcomes for more of the chaotic calls.

Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas airs on Friday nights at 11:30 p.m. EST on HBO.