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NYC to Experiment Responding to Some Calls With Mental Health Workers Instead of Police

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new program that will send mental health and crisis workers instead of police on emergency mental health calls.

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On Tuesday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new pilot program that will send mental health and crisis workers instead of police on emergency mental health calls. 

The program is expected to begin in February and will be composed of new mental health teams from the Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Services unit and will target two “high-need” neighborhoods, according to Reuters.

“For the first time in our city’s history, health responders will be the default responders for a person in crisis, making sure those struggling with mental illness receive the help they need,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that the professionals on call for mental health crises would be equipped to handle suicide attempts, drug abuse, and physical problems that are often indicators of mental health problems, all situations that police would typically respond to.

The mental health responders will be accompanied by a police officer if there is a weapon involved or “imminent risk of harm,” the statement said.

Even the most simple police encounters can be very stressful, which often makes it difficult to communicate properly. This tends to escalate the situation, considering that most police demand nothing short of complete obedience, even if they are dealing with someone who is not a suspect in a crime.

This can be scary for most people, but for someone who suffers from a mental illness and may already have challenges with communication, these types of encounters can be especially terrifying. Sadly, police across the country have repeatedly proven that they do not have the proper attitude or social skills to deal with mentally ill people. This is extremely obvious when police are called to do a “welfare check” on someone who is struggling with mental illness, only to shoot and kill the person because they didn’t “follow orders” to the officer’s liking.

A 2017 report issued by the Bureau of Justice Statistics used self-report survey data from inmates and found that at least 37% of prisoners and 44% of jail inmates had a history of mental health problems. A large portion of these people were convicted of nonviolent drug crimes or offenses associated with homelessness or poverty.

Studies have shown that people who suffer from mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than the average person. According to the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness.

Some US cities have already begun experimenting with sending mental health professionals out to deal with certain issues, most notably, Eugene, Oregon, which has been operational for the past 30 years. The program, called, Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS), began in Oregon, but is now currently operational in at least 8 US cities. It was estimated that the city of Eugene diverted 17% of 130,000 calls through the CAHOOTS program in 2017 alone. The program is also running in Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, Denver, Vancouver, and Portland.

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Rare Creature Photographed Alive In The Wild For The First Time Ever

Elias Marat

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Advances in the methods used by researchers to watch wildlife have allowed for the photographing of a rare creature whose image had never been captured in the wild before.

Researchers in the West African nation of Togo were able to spot the rare Walter’s duiker, a rare species of petite African antelope, for the first time in the wild thanks to camera traps equipped with motion sensors.

In addition to the Walter’s duiker, the camera traps were also able to discover rare species of aardvarks and a mongoose, reports Gizmodo.

At a time when the extinction of entire species is becoming more common worldwide, such devices should help conservationists not only preserve creatures sought by bushmeat hunters but also spot rare animals whose presence is elusive for human observers. In the past, biologists were forced to rely on the same hunters for information.

“Camera traps are a game changer when it comes to biodiversity survey fieldwork,” said University of Oxford wildlife biologist Neil D’Cruze.

“I’ve spent weeks roughing it in tropical forests seemingly devoid of any large mammal species,” D’Cruze continued. “Yet when you fire up the laptop and stick in the memory card from camera traps that have been sitting there patiently during the entire trip—and see species that were there with you the entire time —it’s like being given a glimpse into a parallel world.”

The Walter’s duiker was discovered in 2010 when specimens of bushmeat were compared to other duiker specimens. The new images of the creature are the first to have been seen.

Rare species like Walter’s duiker are often not listed as “endangered” by groups like the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to a lack of data.

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Formerly Homeless Man Enjoys New Life In First 3D-Printed Home In US

Elias Marat

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A formerly homeless man is now enjoying his advanced years in a comfortable, entirely 3D-printed tiny home – the very first of its kind in the entire U.S.

Tim Shea, 70, has struggled for much of his life with substance abuse, addiction, and homelessness.

However, the previously unhoused man is now the first person to live in a 3D-printed tiny home, which is now being touted as a model of engineering and sustainability, reports Green Matters.

The 400-square-foot 3D-printed tiny home was printed by nonprofit New Story and construction technology company ICON in the Austin, Texas, area in March 2018 before Shea moved into the location in September.

In 2019, New Story and ICON have also printed a similar community of tiny homes in Mexico, hoping to make good on the use of the technology as a tool to provide homes to the extremely poor.

According to Shea, his new domicile has made all the difference in the world.

“When I found out I’d be the first person in America to move into a 3D-printed home, I thought it was pretty awesome,” Shea told NY Post. “The very people I used to run away from, I’m running to. If you’ve been on both sides of the fence, you know some people just need a little encouragement and support.”

From start to finish, the process of printing and assembling these homes takes only 48 hours and relies on only 70 to 80 percent of the raw building material that conventional housing requires.

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Company Will Pay $2,400 to Those Willing to Go On a ‘Digital Detox’ for 24 Hours

Elias Marat

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The ongoing pandemic has left many of us staring at a screen for far too long, be it a television screen, smartphone, or computer monitor.

However, one company is seeking to find out whether we can make it through a full day without looking at a screen – and volunteers could receive a reward of $2,400 if they accept the challenge.

Reviews.org is hosting a new “24-Hour Digital Detox Challenge” that will allow participants to take the ultimate test of their ability to abstain from staring into the black mirror and report back the results.

“Are you burnt out from doom scrolling on your phone, re-watching old sitcoms, and trying to maintain your sanity during the pandemic?” the Salt Lake City, Utah-based company recently announced. “Have you always wanted to win reality competitions like American Ninja Warrior, but you’ve been too busy trying to beat Mario Kart and Mortal Kombat instead?”

The challenge is open to anyone 18 or older who is eligible to work in the United States, and the participants will be announced on March 29 on the company’s YouTube channel.

Upon being chosen, participants will be able to accept or decline the challenge after two weeks before picking a day that fits into their schedule. They can spend their day however they please, but they must agree to abstain for a full 24 hours from mobile devices, gaming devices, smartwatches, TVs, computers and other wearables as well as smart home devices. The digital display of your alarm clock, microwave, or other home appliances won’t count.

“Detox challengers” will also receive a safe to store their devices in, as well as a $200 gift card to purchase a tech-free survival kit that can consist of writing stationery, books, board games and other decidedly analog devices.

“We have a feeling someone out there needs a break,” the company wrote in its announcement, noting that since the start of the pandemic people have been staring at screens at an unprecedented rate. 

Those interested can fill out a short application for the challenge here, but do it quickly! Applications close on March 26. 

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