Mar 062012

Ones that creep, crawl and cry,
Ones that howl, hurt and terrify,
Ones that live in the deep dark hole
That feed on your flesh, as well as your soul.
People tell me they aren’t real,
But I greatly disagree,
For monsters who hurt and cause so much pain
Aren’t always ones with horns and fangs.
Yet they are the ones that creep and lie,
That destroys, hurt and terrify
They live in the holes of our depression
And they consume our souls; a monsters impression.
— Tiane Marie Oliver

Cecile Tebo

This poem was written by a 13-year-old girl who has suffered greatly with depression since Hurricane Katrina and read aloud by her mother at the conclusion of the most recent City Council mental health committee meeting. On the panel that day were those who govern our mental health care discussing the impending closure of emergency and acute mental health services at the LSU Interim Hospital as a means of balancing their recent budget. However, as the poem was read, most who are responsible for making these cuts had already left the room to return to their enclosed offices in the bowels of City Hall — shut away from the reality of this nightmare soon to wreak havoc on our city streets. Continue reading »

Feb 072012

Cecile Tebo

Louisiana State University health division has announced that one of the best ways to trim their ever-growing budget woes is to eliminate 39 psychiatric beds dedicated to taking care of our most vulnerable, indigent, mentally ill that live in our midst. The LSU top brass concede that they worry about the ramifications of this decision, as they should. For almost three years post-Katrina, when virtually no psychiatric beds were available, the suicide rate surpassed three times the national average. Continue reading »

Jan 242012

Cecile Tebo

My last call for service before leaving my post with the NOPD Crisis Unit was a 24-year-old hanging from the rafters of his apartment, a clear and tragic sign that my advocacy work with the mentally ill was far from over. In my 10 years with the crisis unit, I was exposed to a large world of chronically mentally ill who live in our city, and their needs continue to be great, as witnessed in this last call. Continue reading »

Dec 202011

Cecile Tebo

‘Tis the season to be jolly… Or is it?

My first Facebook message when I woke up the other morning was from the “skinny crock potters:” “Good morning, skinny crock potters,” it said, “did you have a successful ‘skinny’ weekend?” Oh, the dread. After a night of munching down on lasagna, turkey casserole, crawfish pies, jambalaya, pork, white chocolate cake, flan and brownies this was not the best message to start the day. But ’tis the season, right? So, feeling a bit bloated and blue, I thought it appropriate to reflect a bit on the holiday blues, a very real phenomenon that happens around this time of the year. Continue reading »

Nov 222011

Clarence Givens of New Orleans Private Patrol smiles as he works in front of Newman School. (Sabree Hill,

Whether driving to work, dropping the kids at school or eating at a favorite lunch spot, we all have faces we encounter on a regular basis in our daily journey. A few of my regulars have become part of the fabric of my life — even though I may have never met or had a conversation with them, their faces, warm smiles or simple presences are always consistent and expected in my daily trek. I wonder about the stories behind these faces, who these people are, what their lives are all about, how they became part of my world and perhaps yours as well.

One of those faces belongs to Clarence Givens. Anyone who travels Jefferson Avenue past Newman School in the mornings has had the opportunity to see Clarence Givens. An officer with New Orleans Private Patrol, Clarence has been detailed to Newman School for the past 8 years. What is remarkable about Clarence is his amazingly wide, bright smile, a gift to those who pass him each and every morning. Whether the day is sweltering heat, rain or freezing, that smile is always a given. Continue reading »

Nov 082011

Cecile Tebo

Unfortunately, violence in New Orleans is once again a national conversation du jour. But where does violence come from?

The birth of violence seems to have two very distinctive pathways. The first is cognitive violence, violence that is premeditated with a distinctive plan. For example, you have a bike. I don’t have a bike. I have a gun; you don’t have a gun. I want a bike so I will use my gun to get your bike.

The other pathway to violence through the emotions. Emotionally driven violence is borne out of fear, anger, depression, anxiety or perhaps untreated mental illness or substance abuse. Emotions, especially anger, seem to be all-too-often the root of the never-ending violence we see on the streets of New Orleans. Case in point: the most recent shooting on Bourbon Street reportedly occurred because one man looked at another man in a way that was perceived to be threatening. Continue reading »