New York’s mayor, Democrat Eric Adams, on Tuesday announced 29 controversial and potentially illegal measures, according to critics: hospitalizing people with mental illnesses, even without their consent.
He told a news conference that the aim was to counter a mental health “crisis” in the city, and that police and first responders had already been directed to collect people with severe symptoms of mental illness from the subways and streets and take them, even involuntarily, to hospitals in the area.
According to him, the measure is a response to the “ongoing crisis of seriously mentally ill individuals left untreated and homeless on the city’s streets and subways”. New York City🇧🇷 “These New Yorkers and hundreds of others like them desperately need treatment, yet often refuse it when it’s offered,” Adams said at the press conference.
The mayor said police officers, first responders and other staff “will receive enhanced training on how to assist and care for those experiencing a mental health crisis.” “The nature of their illnesses prevents them from realizing that they need intervention and support. Without this intervention, they remain lost and isolated from society, plagued by delusions and disordered thinking. They are in and out of hospitals and prisons.”
Adams also stated that there is a “myth” that “involuntary assistance” only applies in cases of imminent harm, and said the city will not “give up efforts” for admission, even if it is against a person’s will. He invoked the full authority of the Kendra Act, the legislation that allows court-ordered outpatient treatment. The law is named after Kendra Webdell, who died after a man with a history of mental illness pushed her into the subway tracks.
Criticism of suppression of freedoms and lack of effectiveness
Some mental health professionals have criticized the measure, and said the city should focus on long-term solutions and avoid treating people who refuse.
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services executive director Harvey Rosenthal said the plan “relies heavily on coercion and involuntary hospitalization” and that “adding coercion to a broken system” is inappropriate and may not produce the desired results. .
The executive director of the ACLU of New York, Donna Lieberman, also condemned the plan. He summed up: “The mayor is playing with the legal rights of New Yorkers.” “The federal and state constitutions place severe limits on the government’s ability to detain people with mental illnesses — limits that the mayor’s proposed expansion is likely to violate,” he added in a memo. For her, forcing people to self-medicate is a “failed strategy”.
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