NYC will involuntarily hospitalize people with mental illnesses

New York City Mayor Eric Adams issueddirective Nov. 29 telling police and emergency medical workers to involuntarily hospitalize people with severe mental illnesses who are unable to care for themselves and are a danger to themselves.

The directive to outreach workers, city-operated hospitals and first responders would apply even if the person does not pose a threat to others, according to The New York Times.

Mr. Adams announced the directive as part of efforts to address what he called a crisis of severely mentally ill people left untreated and unsheltered in the city.

"A common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent, suicidal or presenting a risk of imminent harm," the mayor said in an address at City Hall, according to a news release. "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."

According to the directive, people could be hospitalized in cases of "serious untreated physical injury," "unawareness or delusional misapprehension of surroundings," or "unawareness or delusional misapprehension of physical condition or health."

Mr. Adams also said there will be a "special cadre of clinicians paired with [police] officers" and that these teams "will have the training, expertise and sensitivity to ensure that those in need are safely transported to a hospital for evaluation."

Additionally, he said the city will "seek a common-sense expansion of the criteria that a hospital doctor considers in deciding whether or not to discharge a psychiatric patient."

Some have started to raise questions about the directive, and some advocates for people with mental illness warned about potential legal challenges, according to The New York Times.

To read the full directive, click here. To read the full newspaper report, click here

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