Since the start of his Administration, Mayor Adams has rightly focused attention on the plight of New Yorkers living with serious untreated mental illness. His latest policy announcement, to involuntarily transport members of this population to hospitals for assessment and possible admittance, has been both heralded and condemned.
The basis for this new initiative is guidance from the NYS Office of Mental Health which states that involuntary commitment is authorized whenever a person is unable to “meet one’s need for food, clothing or shelter.”
For people who have lost loved ones, like Michelle Go’s parents, the policy shift comes too little too late. For others, like the late Joyce Brown, also known as Billie Boggs, who experienced involuntary commitment as an egregious miscarriage of justice, the new initiative may feel like a dangerous step in the wrong direction.
In today’s NYDN Op Ed, I talk about why focusing the conversation on pre-crisis and crisis interventions might be more productive than taking on the involuntary commitment standard which has long been the third rail of mental health reform. If for nothing else, it is unclear that stepping up involuntary commitment will get people the help they need or that the current hospital system can actually handle the anticipated influx.
I hope you will take a moment to read the Op Ed, then share or comment on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn, as we no longer post on Twitter.
Finally, a special thanks to Tracie Gardner of Legal Action Center and Ann-Marie Louison of CASES for providing insight and guidance on this Op Ed. Their work to help treat and support justice involved people living with serious mental illness and substance use disorders is crucial to restoring the health of those they work with and public safety for all New Yorkers.
LAC’s and CASES’ work and that of the non-profits who are part of the NYC ATI and Re-entry Coalition has been closely coordinated with New York’s Mayors and Council Members for more than 2 decades. Working in partnership is the best way to continue and expand the crucial services New Yorkers need.