HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It's almost as if the steady rains are causing the memorial outside the home to grow. There are more balloons and a menagerie of soggy stuffed animals have appeared. Houston Ministers Against Crime huddled on the porch of the small home where Sheborah Thomas allegedly drowned her two children.. despite assertions from her family and boss that everything seemed normal and she had no mental health issues...they aren't buying it.
"Irrespective of her family members, they did not have the ability to address that. That's what we're dealing with today." said Dr. Robert Gilmore
Dr. Gilmore should know. He's a therapist. He admits that he has not heard of anyone knowing that Thomas had made any sort of outcry. There's a broader issue here. There's a lack of knowledge about and to access to mental health care services in the community.
“I can say as a therapist that sometimes people are not able to say 'I'm breaking down mentally' or their human condition. Their pride so to speak trumps up and they don't really know how to say they need deeper levels of help.”
Some of the ministers say there's an even bigger barrier in this community, a cultural stigma against getting help. But denial doesn't make it go away and this tragedy is proof.
“There are many people who are undiagnosed that we see in the streets daily that are willing to lay in the street. Sleep in the street. Ignore food. Ignore help. So for this to have happened it has to be a mental health situation.” said Jamie Russell with TSU.
So they are calling for two things--more access to mental health resources, and a cultural shift away from stigmatizing those who get help. The changes won't come quickly or easily, but the cost of not changing is too high.
“We in Houston can do better. I'm saying to those professional groups and organizations whatever you are doing is not enough.” warned Dr. Gilmore