New York City Mayor Eric Adams has expanded the city’s ability to deal with mentally unstable New Yorkers, expanding the guidelines for what behaviors justify involuntary commitment, the New York Post has reported.
Until November, city workers were instructed to limit the involuntary commitment program, known as Kendra’s Law, to only people who presented an imminent threat to themselves or to others. These criteria no longer need to be met in order to immediately hospitalize people who refuse treatment voluntarily.
"If severe mental illness is causing someone to be unsheltered and a danger to themselves, we have a moral obligation to help them get the treatment and care they need," Adams said at a televised address on Tuesday morning.
"Today, we are embarking on a long-term strategy to help more of those suffering from severe and untreated mental illness find their way to treatment and recovery."
The announcement was met with praise by homeless and civil rights advocates who, while typically being among Adams’ harshest critics, have enthusiastically embraced the mayor’s plan.
"We appreciate Mayor Adams holding this address to bring further attention to the mental health crisis facing so many New Yorkers, many of whom include the people we represent," Legal Aid said in a statement following the mayor’s address from City Hall.
A homeless man who pushed an Asian woman to her death at a Times Square subway station in January had reportedly been in and out of mental hospitals for 20 years and was deemed unfit to stand trial because of his untreated psychosis.
Adams will also seek to loosen the standards under which New Yorkers admitted to the hospital with untreated mental illness can be required to receive inpatient treatment.
Police officers, social workers, and mental health treatment teams will all be provided with the expanded guidelines and retrained appropriately.
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