be kind to homeless people

Never Judge a Book by its Cover

I finally got outside and went for a long roll on Saturday.

Over six hours, I encountered tons of people and experiences.

It’s amazing what you can experience when you’re not staring at your phone like a zombie.

I want to talk about the mental health aspects of my day.

Before I get into it, I want to point out that the private care person who was with me has an understanding and compassion for people with mental health challenges. I have learned a lot and will continue to learn.

Shortly after I left my place, I came across a person who was unhoused and had some type of mental health challenge(s). Now, I hate to admit it, but due to safety concerns, I mostly ignore them. When I go out, or anytime, I need to ensure that I am safe and that whomever I’m with is also safe.

I could see he was struggling, and my care person wanted to help him. One of his shoelaces was messed up. They started talking while I (mostly) silently observed. While I won’t get into what he said, he had opinions though.

We encountered him outside the police station, with officers standing outside or in their vehicles.

More than anything, I was upset and frustrated they were ignoring him.

I don’t know if they tried to help beforehand, but I’m guessing not.

After much thought, I’m conflicted about whether it’s a good thing.

The police aren’t known for treating people with compassion or for being understanding.

Also, officers weren’t the only ones who ignored him. This occurred on Elgin Street, a fairly busy area, and others ignored him as well. I even saw a few people staring at him.

My biggest question was why both officers and passersby were ignoring him.

Safety was possibly a factor, which I can understand.

But completely ignoring him is, in my opinion, one of the worst things you can do in a situation like this.

Ignoring him won’t make the issue go away. You’re making it worse.

Unhoused people are largely ignored by society. Now, add in the fact they may also have mental health challenges, and their chances of getting the proper help decrease.

Humans should do what we can to help, even if it takes two minutes.

Often, it’s the little things that matter.

After we stopped to help, I felt good, and I’m grateful that I could experience it.

I wish I were physically able to do more to help him, though.

When possible, I say hello when I’m passing by. Most are good at saying hi back or just nodding or waving.

As I said, it’s the little things.

As a person with a physical disability as well as mental health challenges, I know all too well what it feels like to be ignored, stared at, and judged.

I always appreciate it when people say hello or open a door for me. In some cases, a conversation began. A simple face-to-face conversation can lead to friendship and even more.

We are all human, each with our own story, yet we seldom take the time to read even a single page of the other’s tale.

I realize that statement is ironic, considering you’re reading my article.

Taking the time to listen to a person’s story can help you better understand them and others.

Remember how much fun we all had living in a bubble in 2020? Me either.

Now, it’s time for us to pop our own bubble, learn about others in our community, and try to help those in need.

In one way or another, we’re all struggling.

Please be kind to others.

Photo: iStock