NEW YORK (WABC) — Officials introduced a new plan on Tuesday to help more people with serious mental illness in New York.
A directive was immediately issued to city employees – including police, fire, emergency medical services and health services employees – to transport anyone with a psychiatric condition who refuses voluntary assistance to the hospital, where she will be evaluated.
It’s part of the mayor’s announced long-term strategy to address “people with serious mental illnesses”, with “an immediate change in how we interpret our obligation to those in need”.
Officials said state law allows for intervention when severe mental illness prevents an individual from meeting basic human needs.
“A common misconception persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal or at risk of imminent harm,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “This myth must be dispelled. In the future, we will do everything we can to help those who suffer from mental illness and whose illness puts them at risk by preventing them from meeting their basic human needs.”
The new guideline “creates an expedited step-by-step process for the involuntary transportation of people in crisis”, which “explicitly states that it is appropriate to use this process when people appear to be mentally ill and unable to meet their basic needs”.
Police will receive enhanced training for “basic needs” interventions, including “engagement strategies to try before resorting to removal”. Training started Tuesday morning.
The city will also launch a new hotline for police to guide when encountering people in psychiatric crisis. Officers will receive “real-time access to consider potential responses to people with mental health needs.”
The phone number will be made up of health + hospital staff and will be operational by next year.
In addition, special intervention teams will be paired with police officers to help them deal with people in crisis.
The city will also pursue legislation to enshrine “the basic needs standard for involuntary intervention” in state law. The city thinks it’s already the law, but codifying case law “will help us make it widely understood.”
“The NYPD works day and night to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers, especially our city’s most vulnerable populations,” said NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “This is a long-standing and very complex problem. And we will continue to work closely with our many partners to ensure that everyone has access to the services they need. This deserves the full support and attention of our collective efforts.
While many have praised the city’s efforts to take action to help those with serious mental illness, not everyone supports the new directive.
“The mayor’s announcement leaves many unspecified details, unanswered questions, and the administration needs to provide more information about the intentions, implementation and non-policing investment in his plan,” the administration said. public attorney Jumaane Williams. “A framework that continues to overly focus on policing, diminishes the role of medical professionals, and downgrades the role of peer support will not be sustainable or effective in meeting the needs of New Yorkers in need or d ‘a city in crisis.’
The Coalition for the Homeless said the mayor “keeps it wrong” and homeless people are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.
“Mayor Adams must focus on fixing our broken mental health system and prioritize access to quality voluntary care and affordable permanent housing with supportive services for New Yorkers who need it. most needed,” said a spokeswoman for the coalition.
NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman released the following statement:
“The mayor is playing fast and loose with the legal rights of New Yorkers and failing to dedicate the resources necessary to address the mental health crises affecting our communities. Federal and state constitutions place strict limits on the government’s ability to detaining people with mental illness – boundaries the mayor’s proposed expansion is likely to violate Forcing people into treatment is a failed strategy to connect people to treatment and long-term care Unless we invest adequately in the long-term health and well-being of New Yorkers facing mental illness and our chronic lack of housing, the current mental health crisis will continue. of decades of sweeping deep-rooted issues out of public view may play well for politicians, but the problems will persist – for vulnerable people in distress in need of government services and for New Yorkers. The mayor’s attempt to wipe out the homeless and sweep individuals out of sight is a failed page in Giuliani’s playbook. With no real plan for housing, services or support, the administration chooses handcuffs and coercion. »
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