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New York will commit homeless people with serious mental disorders in psychiatric hospitals against their will

2022-11-30T00:51:44.458Z

Mayor Adams announces a plan to clear the subway of homeless people even if they do not represent an imminent danger



A social worker and a police officer attend to a man on a New York subway platform in 2020. John Minchillo (AP)

Homeless people with severe mental disorders may be committed against their will to psychiatric facilities in New York, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday.

The 11-point plan aims to solve "the current crisis of people with serious mental illnesses who are left without treatment and without shelter on the city's streets and subways."

A controversial measure, which follows an initiative to

clean up

the New York subway undertaken by the mayor's office in February with the aim of increasing the feeling of safety in the subway and improving its image.

So far this year, the Big Apple has experienced several events involving untreated mental patients, such as the homeless man who threw a woman onto the subway tracks in January, the MoMa assailant who evaded entry controls and stabbed several visitors or, finally, the shooting that left some twenty injured in a subway car in April, an event that shocked the city by jugularizing its main artery, the suburban.

In parallel, the abundant media coverage of each and every one of the events has been substantiated in a growing criminalization of the

homeless

abandoned by the system, in a clear process of public stigmatization.

Mayor Adams has detailed his plan, a "compassionate vision" to address this crisis, beginning with an urgent directive to city agencies, from police to social services, and to all professionals involved in screening people. with signs of a psychiatric disorder so that they receive the care they need.

To guarantee this "compassionate care", specific training will be given to police officers and other workers who decide on forced internment, without the assistance of a judge or specialist.

The mayor affirmed that New York has a "moral obligation" to face "a crisis that we see all around us", through the involuntary hospitalization of individuals even if they do not pose an immediate risk to themselves or to others.

According to the document entitled

Rights of Patients Hospitalized in Psychiatric Facilities from the NT State Office of Mental Health

, an official publication of the health agency, the involuntary admission of a patient can only take place in one of these three cases. : if two doctors certify that you need treatment (to be retained for up to 60 days, plus only with prior judicial authorization), by indication of the community social services or, in an emergency admission, "due to a high probability of causing harm to third parties or to yourself , so hospitalization [with a maximum retention] of up to 15 days is required.”

Adams' announcement does not pick up the third eventuality.

Adams' agenda targets loopholes in New York State Mental Hygiene Law, which he says multiply the challenges in meeting "the needs of its most vulnerable residents with severe mental illness."

The controversial councilor, a moderate Democrat but with a clear message of a strong hand in security issues and cuts in social spending -in public schools, for example-, has announced the deployment of new joint response clinical teams in the metro, that is, a reinforcement of those deployed in the great clean-up campaign that the city undertook at the end of February after the death, run over by the train, of the woman who was pushed onto the tracks by a man with a long history of untreated mental illness.

In this regard, Adams has described as a "persistent myth" that legal criterion, namely the existence of an "overt act" that shows that the person is violent, has suicidal tendencies or dangerous behavior that may cause imminent harm.

“There is a common misconception that we cannot provide involuntary assistance [commitment] unless the person is violent,” Adams said.

“We must end this myth.

In the future, we will do everything we can to help those who are mentally ill and whose illness endangers them by preventing them from meeting their basic human needs.”

Adams' announcement will probably be the target of criticism from NGOs and social workers, as happened when launching the aforementioned

subway

cleaning program.

The presence of homeless people in the underground is a phenomenon that, with the imminent arrival of winter, will only reproduce itself in the corridors and platforms of the main means of public transport in the city, open 24 hours a day, with 472 stations and hundreds of kilometers of tracks, but also of platforms, halls and corridors, which offer the only possible refuge to thousands of homeless people due to a lack of enough places in shelters.

His management of the migration crisis, led by thousands of Central Americans sent by bus since spring by the governor of Texas, has also been a source of controversy, and very specifically the opening and subsequent closure of a camp for displaced persons on the island of Randalls, north of Manhattan.

Adams, who publicized the center's opening to a great deal of media outrage, said a few weeks later that it wasn't necessary but spent almost $700,000 to set it up.

The city will instruct hospitals to forcibly hold inpatients until they are stable, releasing them only when there is a viable plan to refer them to continuing care.

The shortage of psychiatric beds does not seem to be a problem for the councilor either, who pointed out that Governor Kathy Hochul has approved increasing the number available by 50, in a city of eight million inhabitants.

“We are going to find a bed for everyone,” said the mayor.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-11-30

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