Nov 29, 2022 - Politics & Policy

New York City to begin hospitalizing mentally ill people involuntarily

Mayor Eric Adams delivers remarks during a joint announcement.

Mayor Eric Adams speaks at The Paley Center for Media. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York City Mayor Eric Adams directed city officials Tuesday to begin hospitalizing more mentally ill people from the city's streets.

Why it matters: The move will include hospitalizing people from the subways and streets even if they aren't posing a risk to others, with the hope of finding hospitalized patients ongoing care before discharging them.

Driving the news: Adams said that New York City has “a moral obligation” to address “a crisis we see all around us.”

  • He called on city agencies, such as the police department, to remove people from the streets and subways and bring them to hospitals for extended care.
  • Training for police officers, Emergency Medical Services staff and medical personnel will begin soon to make sure officials show "compassionate care" toward others, Adams said.

What he said: "A common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal or presenting a risk of imminent harm," Adams said in a press conference.

  • "This myth must be put to rest. 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," he said.
  • "We will continue to do all we can to persuade those in need of help to accept services voluntarily," he added. "But we will not abandon them if those efforts cannot overcome the person’s unawareness of their own illness."

The big picture: Right now, homeless people who have mental illness will be brought to hospitals and then released days later when their condition improves, according to the New York Times.

  • But Adams said he wants hospitals to keep patients until they are in stable conditions and when there is a plan in place for new, ongoing care.

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