shutterstock_157322402The MTV Video Music Awards aired recently. Last year Miley Cyrus (MC) made headlines twerking herself to fame. This year she had a homeless man accept her award for Video of the Year in what I hope was an effort to help advocate for homelessness awareness. I can’t help but take a close look at her face at what looks like forced tears that she wipes away from her chin. Why did she have to sit up in front of her peers front and center in front of the camera? Why couldn’t she just respectfully sit in her seat and listen to the speech like the rest of us?

I can’t help but think this is yet another stunt by MC to gain coverage and water cooler conversations. Seems convenient for her to have a homeless man accept her award and position herself out in front of the crowd with what looks like a fake cry. A show.

Sit down MC. I live near Skid Row. There are two types of Wall Streets. One in New York making bank, and another in the heart of Skid Row. Every Saturday I walk through Skid Row to the flower district which is located on the other Wall Street. Sometimes I run into former patients that I worked with that used to be in County Hospital inpatient psych wards. Often times they will run up to me and ask me for help, for money, for meds. Most of them were discharged to the street and either have run out of their meds, or sold them for money. A Wellbutrin perscrpition can get you far for it is the latest drug to cut up and snort. Oxycontin, Valium, and Vicodin are also great commodities if you’re hard up for money. But not all homeless people are doing drugs, or dealing them.

I do homeless outreach for the mentally ill throughout Los Angeles County. I know their stories and hardships. Most of my clients suffer from chronic mental illness. Recently I asked one of my clients that sits on a bench in Tokyo Town if he struggles with depression.

“Wouldn’t anyone in my position living on the streets be depressed?” It was a stupid question, but it made me think. The bridge between homelessness and mental illness is blurred. People think homeless people on Skid Row are alcoholics, or on drugs. Yes, some of them are, but not all of them. The ones dispersed throughout LA County avoid Skid Row like the plague. We should probably take a closer look at how homelessness leads to mental illness, or how mental illness leads to homelessness.

People talk a lot about stigma toward the mentally ill and stigma toward homelessness but not so much about the stigma of chronic mentally ill homeless individuals. It’s a double whammy that could use a platform that doesn’t result in a pop singer pushing tears out of her face in front of a camera.

Take a look yourself and tell me what you see…e

“Miley Cyrus Lets A Homeless Youth Accept The VMA Award With A Touching Speech”

Miley Cyrus image available from Shutterstock.