A new directive to New York City agencies by Mayor Eric Adams will allow the city to "involuntarily" hospitalize mentally ill individuals experiencing a "mental health crisis."
"We have issued a new directive to our Department of Health and Mental Hygiene mobile crisis teams, FDNY-EMS, and the NYPD. This directive lays out an expedited, step-by-step process for involuntarily transporting a person experiencing a mental health crisis to a hospital for evaluation," Adams said in announcing the new directive Tuesday. "It explicitly states that it is appropriate to use this process when a person refuses voluntary assistance, and it appears that they are suffering from mental illness and are a danger to themselves due to an inability to meet their basic needs."
According to the city, the directive is in response to the "crisis" of "unsheltered and untreated" severely mentally ill people in the subways and on the streets.
"In accordance with state law and court precedent, Mayor Adams' directive clarifies that outreach workers, city-operated hospitals, and first responders have the legal authority to provide care to New Yorkers when severe mental illness prevents them from meeting their own basic human needs to the extent that they are a danger to themselves," the city said in the release.
"The directive — issued by Mayor Adams today — seeks to dispel a persistent myth that the legal standard for involuntary intervention requires an 'overt act' demonstrating that the person is violent, suicidal, or engaging in outrageously dangerous behavior likely to result in imminent harm."
Adams move comes after the New York Post reported a 40% increase in felonies in the subway compared to 2021.
The Post, citing new NYPD data, reported 1,917 felony crimes, including rape, robbery and murder reported during the January through October period, up from 1,367 reported last year.
Adams said that more homeless individuals will shelter in the subway system as winter approaches, including those with severe mental illnesses, causing the city to deploy "subway clinical response teams" made up of police and mental health workers to patrol "high-traffic stations" to bring a clinician-led approach to deal with mentally ill individuals.
"With this announcement, we are bolstering our strategies to get people who are in danger due to untreated severe mental illness the help they need," Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said. "We are adding layers of additional support for our first responders to work with clinical specialists in the moment and at the time it is needed, and we are pursuing all other areas for assistance: Health, social services, legal, and legislative.
"Thank you to our teams across government working to see that this is a coordinated, whole-of-government effort."
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