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Op-Ed: Action, Care and Compassion: My Administration’s Approach to Addressing Severe Mental Illness

Mayor Eric Adams announces a new pathway forward to address the ongoing crisis of individuals experiencing severe mental illnesses left untreated and unsheltered in New York City’s streets and subways. City Hall. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Dec. 6, 2022 Op-Ed By NYC Mayor Eric Adams 

Our city is facing a crisis. New Yorkers with severe and untreated mental illness are living out in the open, on our streets and in our subways. They are in danger and need help, yet often, the nature of their illnesses prevents them from seeking the support they require.

My Administration is determined to do more to assist people with mental illness, especially those with untreated psychotic disorders who pose a risk of harm to themselves, even if they are not an imminent threat to the public. Moving forward, we will take several key steps.

The most important is for our outreach workers, hospital staff, and police officers to be aware that New York law already allows us to intervene when untreated severe mental illness prevents a person from meeting their basic human needs, causing them to be a danger to themselves.

We will continue to do all we can to persuade those in need of help to accept services voluntarily. But we have also given our mobile crisis teams—comprised of clinicians—specific guidance for involuntarily transporting a person experiencing a mental health crisis to a hospital for evaluation.

This will occur when a person refuses voluntary assistance, and it appears that they are suffering from severe mental illness and are a danger to themselves due to an inability to meet their basic needs. We believe this is the first time that a mayoral administration has given this direction on the “basic needs” standard in official guidance.

Our mobile crisis teams and police officers will also receive enhanced training on how to assist those in mental health crisis. This will include an in-depth discussion of what “inability to meet basic needs” means, and an array of options to consider before resorting to involuntary removal.

We will launch a hotline staffed by clinicians from our H+H hospitals to provide guidance to police officers who encounter individuals in psychiatric crisis as well. The hotline will allow an officer to describe what they are seeing to a clinical professional, or even use video calling to get an expert opinion on what options may be available.

In addition to these steps, we will ask our partners in Albany to make important fixes to the New York State Mental Hygiene Law.

These fixes include a common-sense expansion of the information that a hospital doctor considers in deciding whether to discharge a psychiatric patient. All too often, a person enters a hospital in crisis and is discharged prematurely simply because their current behavior is no longer as alarming as it was when they were admitted.

Our agenda also calls for allowing a broader range of licensed mental health professionals to staff our mobile crisis teams, and for a broader range of trained professionals to perform psychiatric evaluations in hospitals. This will help us get more outreach teams on the ground and enable hospital psychiatrists to spend more time providing medical care directly to patients.

These are just a few of the needs our legislation addresses. We will be doing more to help people with severe mental illness access “assisted outpatient treatment,” and coordinated care.

All these efforts are based on my core conviction that people with untreated severe mental illness deserve care, community, and treatment in the least restrictive setting possible. By helping our brothers and sisters with severe mental illness, my administration will also be protecting the rights of every New Yorker to live, work, thrive and be safe.

To learn more, please see: PsychiatricCrisisCare_v1.indd (nyc.gov)

email the author: [email protected]

48 Comments

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Glenn or Glenda

And not one mention regarding the $1+ BILLION that Diblasio and his wife stole for exactly this purpose! So you know what, WHO CARES! People, you are the cause of the crime and violence issues that plague NYC! Yes, your voting habits, and inability to question your leaders, has led to this situation! Go kick rocks!!! Deal with it!

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Glenn or Glenda

And not one mention regarding the $1+ BILLION that Diblasio and his wife stole! So you know what, WHI CARES! People, you are the cause of the crime and violence issues that plague NYC! Yes, your voting results, and inability to question your leaders has led too this situation! Go kick rocks!!!

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Gardens Watcher

Mayor Adams should hire Anthony Almojera to lead a task force to tackle this issue. He is the EMS lieutenant paramedic who wrote an excellent guest essay on 12/7 in The New York Times about this issue.

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Republicans Believe in Myths Fairytales, Invisible Gods and Conspiracy Theories

Yes, It’s bad. But nothing like the 80s.

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Apple

One of the things that the city should do is shut the Subway System down for 3 hrs to send the homeless t the hospital and disinfect each subway cart. The urine stink and poop smell has everyone stressed out. Covid, flu and RSV hospitalizations are also on the rise and the city need to help clean up the mess people and rats leave behind.

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Harold

My take away from this article is that it’s even worse than I thought and that mayor Adams is a complete disaster for New York City who seems to have no answer to any of the problems. PS I voted for him. Should have stayed home.

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Maritza

they gonna have to involuntary commit most of the city under these guidelines lol people be acting crazy and arguing with each other over nothing around here

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Chris

Here’s the problem with this whole idea, we are relying on Police officers that don’t have the education to make these decisions. Most officers only have a High School education with Police training on top. Let’s fund teachers, City Planers, and Mental Health programs, instead of throwing more money to Police. You won’t need as many officers if others parts if the government are funded.

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wrong

60 college credits are required to be hired by the NYPD…it is very easy to determine who needs to be removed from the streets…the people who are filthy and stink and who are hallucinating and acting completely out of control….a 5 year old could pick these people out….letting them languish in their mental illness alone and out on the streets without treatment is beyond cruel….please don’t let your bigotry against the police contribute to the continued suffering of these people.

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Wu

You can go to a community college for 60 credits or 2 yr degree. I went to a community college because i did not have the grades or SAT scores to get into a 4 yr college. NYC Community college degrees are easier to attain than getting a HS diploma. Teachers are very lenient and give many opportunities to students to make up bad grades and pass courses. My classes at community college were full of foreign and minority students in addition to English language learners. I was totally lost and unprepared for the workload i experienced when i transfered to a 4 yr college.

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JoeBama Magoo

you should call a city planner for help when you get attacked. dont worry, people will just take videos of the attack and do nothing, and hopefully no charges are pressed on the attacker. i hope the attacker will be ok. toodles!

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Marc

Cops can’t tell the difference between a gun and a cell phone, but now they’re mental health experts? Smdh….

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Gloria

NYers have bigger things to worry about like the tripledemic going on. Mask up folks and let our Mayor do his job!!!

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frosty the snowman

one time I saw some homeless guy pants down and having a good time in the large mirrors outside the herald square mall, enjoyin himself big time, tourist just made a bigger radius and walked around him like it was no big deal.

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Rosa

First we had stop and frisk which ended and was useless. Now we will have cops stop and psychologically evaluate. Nothing could go wrong..right?

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It wasn't useless.

Crime was almost non existent.

But whoever decided to get rid of stop and frisk should be the first one involuntary committed. For life.

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Luna

Many citizens in New York agreed with NYPD. This mayor just sit down and come up with ideas of putting citizens against the cops. Our police officers from what I see is doing the best they can. Some good and some bad cops. But these officers are humans and Adams want cops to take the blame for his messy management. A wicked Man

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Brandon

My husband is a retired psychologist with over 40 years of practical experience, nearly 20 of which were spent in the public mental health system. When I told him about this, he was stunned and appalled. He been tasked with and carried out involuntary commitments ranging from 72hr. holds to long-term commitments, all of which he took very seriously and ordered only after the most stringent screening possible. In order for him to be qualified and knowledgeable enough to make those decisions, he had to complete multiple undergraduate and graduate degrees and undergo constant continuing education trainings to maintain his professional license.

So Mayor thinks a bunch of roided-up street cops can take a few hours of “training” and make competent and often complex mental health diagnoses on the fly?

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Teresa

The same way you could not force Asylum Seekers to live in tents when given a choice you cannot force the homeless people to go to the hospital. Cops will do nothing about it unless the person is a big threat and refuses to leave the subway. Give the mentally ill homeless hotel rooms, free food, spending money and free healthcare and you will see how quickly most will comply like they do with the Asylum Seekers.

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Maria

What about getting mentally ill people that are not homeless help. Tired of them harassing tenants smoking weed drinking alcohol loitering and arguing all night with each other. Managing agents and cops do nothing about it. I moved out of affordable housing cuz of this.

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Peter

Eric Adams is only hot air. He likes to talk and that’s all he does. He said he was going to “flood” the subways with cops. Didn’t even get a drip. So, NOW he says they are gonna do psychiatric evaluations on the streets/subways? Sounds good/people think he’s doing something. But, will takes years to train the cops and there are no hospital beds for the people they take off the street. It’s a long, complicated process to get ONE person into a hospital. Plus, it’s illegal to force people into a hospital for a long term. It’s just a hot air press release. But, people envision action is being taken. Don’t expect to see any difference at all.

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Cruz

Eric Adams is giving the P.D. a new tool for mass incarceration without requiring possession of drugs be a necessary element. Julie Won please organize a protest!!

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Fox News Crime Coverage ended the day after Election Day

Why does this sound like a page from Mayor Giuliani handbook?

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Sigmund Schadenfreud

Fox New Derangement Syndrome is a mental illness too. Maybe the cops will diagnose people suffering from that someday.

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Mitch

The vast majority of people on the street are harmless, and many have had bad experiences with the mental health system. This stuff needs to be thought out.

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Sandra

Involuntarily committing a person is not really helpful. I have a friend that was committed by her husband at the time (now ex husband) She was stuck in there for a weekend and she is still nuts. She has money so she manages to get by because to her we are the insane ones and not her. Its like the rich celebrities (Kanye, spears, etc} who many say are insane but do not go get treatment because they can pay their bills and think whatever they want. Its always the poor that suffer.

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Lois

Many progressives voters agree with the above policy because it is something they witness first hand daily when walking their dogs or going to yoga class. Other police efforts to prevent and stop crime are racists though.

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Neil

Only in NYC is it controversial to arrest violent lunatics who scream, hit, and bite strangers. The crazies are not as gone as people think they are. They cluster in progressive districts because that’s where all the money from begging comes from.

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Lee

Withholding my applauds until I see it in my neighborhood. I’ll be the first to let you know but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Been around for too long. Western queens is a safe haven for mentally ill people, homeless and criminals.

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Sean

Headlines should read “MANHATTAN homeless mentally ill will be forced off streets into hospital, treatment under Mayor Adams plan.” I seriously doubt there will be much, if any, rounding up of homeless, mentally ill people from the streets of the other boroughs.

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norm

Sounds like bait and switch….Empty subways of the homeless population and throw them in hospitals putting patients who need and want care in danger.

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Jackie

Adams did not become mayor to climb a hill he became mayor to climb a mountain. We stand with Eric Adams. The racists media and racists NYers need to back off!!!

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Katelyn

This is more about getting homeless off the subways and has very little to do with helping the mentally ill. The city needs that tourist money to come back and the mayor has to do something to try and keep up with his tough on crime image now that his 1 year in office is approaching. Being that many homeless are people of color previous mayors wld of been accused of racism for such a policy. Adams gets a pass.

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deblasios wife is a crook

perhaps you should investigate de blasios wife who “lost” 800million in mental heath funds while managing it

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Lee

Mayor is simply trying to say that crime and decline in quality of life is directly related to NYC’s mentally ill homeless population. His plan is also a good way to send the homeless to NJ. Mayor is preparing for a future presidential run. He is all talk and tries to play on both sides of the fence.

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