Disability Advocates Decry Mayor’s Plan to Increase Coercive Treatment for Individuals with Mental Illnesses, Call for a Comprehensive Program of Voluntary Engagement, Housing, and Community SupportsNovember 29, 2022
We are heartened by Mayor Adams’ statement that we can no longer walk away from vulnerable people experiencing mental health crises. Indeed, we need to respond – but not, as the Mayor suggests, by increasing the use of involuntary hospitalizations and forced outpatient commitments.
The Mayor and his team were on point when they prioritized the use of persistent engagement approaches and access to a trauma-informed continuum of community services.
But we firmly reject the Mayor’s proposed expansion of coercive approaches, that will actually harm people experiencing mental health crises by increasing the use of traumatizing, involuntary inpatient and outpatient services. We cannot hospitalize ourselves out of the problems faced by the mentally ill, nor can we force more people into the same services that have already repeatedly failed them. Increasing the use of hospitalizations, without providing more and better community services, will simply produce more failed discharges.
Instead, we must triple our investments in the new approaches that are in the process of being rolled out by the City and State, most notably specialized ‘housing first’ programs designed to house and support people in the greatest need.
Further, New Yorkers in crisis must be afforded a continuum of proven voluntary services to provide sustained follow-up and support, including peer bridgers, peer respite, support connection centers, clubhouses, crisis stabilization, and the like.
We call on the Mayor to reject expansion of coercive measures and instead, promptly release a comprehensive plan that features proven voluntary approaches that are the real remedy to walking past those in the greatest need.
New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services
Ruth Lowenkron, Esq.
Director, Disability Justice Program
New York Lawyers for the Public Interest
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