Fashion Designer Alexandra Nyman, who designs under the moniker LadyCat, is thrilled to announce her third New York Fashion Week showcase. The collection, entitled “Marry Me Betty” is a commentary on generational trauma and a criticism of the expansion of Kendra’s Law by Mayor Adams’, which forcefully hospitalizes those who appear to exhibit signs of mental illness.
“We are defaulting to an extreme that takes away basic human rights,” Matt Kudish, CEO of the New York chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said in a statement.
Kendra’s Law should be evoked as a last resort solution, not as a city-wide mental health solution. This fundamental misunderstanding about the impact of Kendra’s Law or AOT on increasing mental health care access has historically led to significant racial disparities throughout the state. According to a report from the NYS Office of Mental Health, minorities are more likely to be the recipients of court orders which compel treatment or medication. And people who have been hospitalized previously, and don’t have any history of violence are often the targets of Kendra’s Law.
“It is my firm belief that this law creates obstacles to quality mental health care by creating a fear of forced treatment, and fraying a person’s trust in the health care system. Being forcefully hospitalized is one of the most traumatic things an individual can experience,” Nyman spoke passionately on the matter when remarking on the Mayor’s current expansion of Kendra’s Law.
“A family member of mine experienced being forcefully hospitalized a number of times when they were in college due to experiencing a mental health crisis, and being confronted by an officer, instead of a mental health professional, did not remedy the situation, but intensified it.
“Instead of finding relief during their hospitalization, for the first twenty-four hours, they sat on a stretcher in a hallway waiting for an open room, getting little to no sleep. When they got into a room and were admitted into the behavioral health unit, they were lumped in with patients of varying mental illnesses. There was chaos in the halls, screaming rang throughout the quarters, with medication shoved down their throat.
“This created a resistance to treatment for months afterwards, and shut my family member down from talking about the experience until after years of intensive therapy. My family member was not given the qualitative treatment they needed
“People who struggle with behavioral health issues are marginalized and face stigma that can lead to severe consequences. Mayor Adams, this policy perpetuates the belief that many people hold that individuals with mental health issues are dangerous. But in reality, they are more likely to be victims of crime and excessive use of force by the police than to cause harm,” Alexandra Nyman, the founder and creative director of LadyCat recounted.
On her collection, Alexandra Nyman stated: “This to me, is a repeat of history, and our failure to learn from it. One of my Mother’s earliest memories is of her seeing two men in white coats coming into her home to remove my Grandmother from the house for electroconvulsive therapy. In the 1960s, bipolar disorder type 1 was categorized as manic depression, and unfortunately, a common treatment for it was ECT.
“This event triggered generational trauma in my family, creating a resistance to mental health assistance in my Mother even in her adult life. Thankfully, my Grandmother did not give up on seeking help for her mental health and did continue to get help, despite being mistreated by the system.”
Nyman will be showcasing at Break Free, which is being held on Saturday, February 11th, with all of the proceeds from this showcase going towards the Break Free Foundation, whose purpose is to provide scholarships to assist those seeking treatment for a substance use disorder through attending a rehabilitation center.
The Break Free NYFW Designer Showcase serves as an awareness campaign as attendees will listen to the participants discuss their experiences with mental health, substance use, and co-occurring disorders, as well as the impact they have on the individuals who are living in recovery.
Nyman hopes her message of breaking free from generational trauma and continuing to seek mental health treatment is one that will resonate with others. She passionately urges members of the New York legislature to pass Daniel’s Law, which treats mental health as a public health issue and not a public safety threat and has mental health professionals as the first responders for matters of mental health crises.