New York City to hospitalize mentally ill individuals without consent


  By Belle Carter 



New York City Mayor Eric Adams recently announced that he will remove people with severe, untreated mental illness from the streets and subways and send them to hospitals for psychiatric evaluations involuntarily or without their consent.

This “major effort” just means that potentially mentally unstable people will be forced “rescued” and hospitalized, even if they do not pose an immediate risk of harm to others just because Adams said his government has “a moral obligation to address a crisis we see all around us.”

“The common misunderstanding persists that we cannot provide involuntary assistance unless the person is violent,” Adams said during his speech at the City Hall. “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 mayor, the local government unit would train police officers, Emergency Medical Services staff and other medical personnel immediately to “ensure compassionate care.”

But it is important to note that the new directive on the policy acknowledges that “case law does not provide extensive guidance regarding removals for mental health evaluations based on short interactions in the field.”

Last month, Adams said the main cause of increasing crime rates in the subways this year is mental illness. “When you do an analysis of the subway crimes, you are seeing that it’s being driven by people with mental health issues,” he said in an interview. (Related: More and more people are becoming HOMELESS as America’s economic condition worsens.)



Also, during a press conference following his announcement, Adams promised to ensure there were enough beds in the hospitals as healthcare providers cited the shortage of psychiatric beds as the main reason for discharging patients immediately. He added that Gov. Kathy Hochul had agreed to add 50 new beds.

Brendan McGuire, chief counsel to the mayor, tackled the legality of holding people involuntarily and said people would be held under a state mental hygiene law that allows for involuntary commitment if they are a threat to themselves or others. The city government will also be using Kendra’s Law, which lets courts mandate treatment for those who are a danger to themselves or others.

Adams’ coercive measures draws criticisms from experts, lawmakers

Harvey Rosenthal, chief executive of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services and a longstanding critic of involuntary confinement, said the latest announcement by Adams would prove counterproductive.

“The mayor talked about a ‘trauma-informed approach,’ but coercion is itself traumatic,” Rosenthal said. “This work is all about relationship and engagement and trust and reliability and putting in place this continuity of service – that’s what’s going to get us out of this, not more hospital beds and more Kendra’s Law orders.”