Posted 59 days ago
New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an immediate directive on Tuesday detailing protocols for removing and treating mentally ill people from the city’s streets and subways.
“If severe mental illness is causing someone to be unsheltered and a danger to themselves, we have a moral obligation to get the treatment and care they need,” Adams, a Democrat, said in an address outlining the city’s expectations for outreach workers, police, and hospital personnel to handle severely mentally ill people.
“Today, we are embarking on a long-term strategy to help more of those suffering from severe and untreated mental illness find their way to treatment and recovery,” he continued.
The city’s new protocol for dealing with mentally ill homeless people would begin with an immediate effect and require outreach workers to “take deeper actions and more intensive engagement,” with Adams noting that the protocol is already published online (pdf) and workers are already being trained.
“We can no longer deny the reality that untreated psychosis can be a cruel and all-consuming condition that often requires involuntary intervention, supervised medical treatment, and long-term care,” he added. “We will change the culture from the top down and take every action to get care to those who need it.”
Adams said “job one” was making it “universally” clear to outreach workers, hospital workers, and police that New York law already “allows us to intervene when mental illness prevents a person from meeting their basic human needs, causing them to be a danger to themselves.”
The mayor said it had been a common misunderstanding that involuntary intervention is only legal if the person is violent, suicidal, or presenting a risk of imminent harm.
“This myth must be put to rest,” Adams said. “Going forward, we will make every effort to assist those who are suffering from mental illness and whose illness is endangering them by preventing them from meeting their basic human needs.”
Adams stressed that outreach workers, hospital personnel, and police would do everything they could to persuade the designated severely mentally ill people to voluntarily accept “services.” But that involuntary intervention would be provided if the person can’t “overcome the person’s unawareness of their own illness.”... (Read more)