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With the NYC Mental Health Plan, Hospitals Have A Complex Task

By 12/11/2022 9:38 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

The most recent initiative in New York City to prevent mentally ill persons from languishing in public is hailed as a reasonable idea to get them assistance.

Mayor Eric Adams claims that by encouraging police officers and city medics to transport more psychologically disturbed people to hospitals even if they reject treatment, he is humanely addressing a problem rather than ignoring it.

But his proposal will have to overcome a court challenge and a frosty response from some local lawmakers.

In emergency rooms, psychiatrists must determine whether such patients need hospitalization, perhaps against their will.

It’s not an easy choice.

The moment a patient enters the emergency room, they need to be confined since they are often quite anxious. … But other folks come in, and they’re calm and peaceful, but they just tried to kill themselves two hours ago,” says Dr. Joel A. Idowu, who leads the psychiatric department at Richmond University Medical Center on Staten Island.

He added, “A stable person today could become unstable tomorrow.

Adams, a former police captain now a politician, revealed the strategy in late November.

The first-term Democrat has concentrated on reestablishing what he sees as the civic functionality and sense of safety damaged during the coronavirus pandemic.

Less crowded streets and subways, among other things, gave the residents—some of whom were mentally ill—new visibility.

Following state legislation, police may order people to be transported to hospitals for assessment if they exhibit symptoms of mental illness and there is a significant risk that they or others would suffer physical injury due to their actions.

That’s typically perceived to signify those who are violent or suicidal. Adams, however, claimed he was using the legal provisions available to him to help those “whose disease is threatening them by prohibiting them from achieving their basic human needs.”

While civil rights organizations and mental health advocacy groups criticize the mayor’s approach as draconian, legally dubious, and immoral, he bases it on his “moral commitment to help them obtain the therapy and care they need.”

Critics demonstrated outside City Hall this week and have asked a federal judge to suspend the policy; a hearing is expected Monday.

In addition to the new national 988 mental health emergency hotline and initiatives in New York and other cities to handle at least some crisis calls with behavioral health professionals rather than police, it comes amid efforts across the U.S. to separate mental health treatment from law enforcement.

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