Safe and Healthy City: Mayor de Blasio Orders 30 Day Review of Intensive Mental Health Intervention Programs
October 11, 2019
NYPD and DOHMH to lead review of City’s use of Mobile Treatment Teams, Kendra’s Law, and NYC Safe
NEW YORK—Mayor de Blasio announced today that the City will be conducting a 30 day review of how the City uses Kendra’s Law and other intensive mental health interventions, particularly mobile treatment teams, to make sure those in need receive treatment and stay connected with it. This effort will be led by DOHMH Commissioner Oxiris Barbot and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan. Under the direction of DOHMH and NYPD, NYC Health + Hospitals, DHS, and Thrive will review clients who are potentially eligible for Assisted Outpatient Treatment through Kendra’s Law and make referrals to the Department of Health, triggering an immediate clinical review for the courts consideration. Agencies will also review this caseload to facilitate connections to other intensive mental health interventions including the city’s mobile treatment teams where appropriate.
“When people with mental illness need help, we as a City should be doing everything we can to make sure they get it,” said Mayor de Blasio. “To keep our city safe and healthy, we are taking every measure necessary to protect New Yorkers and make sure that those struggling with mental illness receive the help that they need.”
“A review of services is important to improve the system of care for people affected by mental illness,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Bottom line is that services are key to better health outcomes faster. We will assess routes into treatment to maximize engaging those most in need.”
“This review will comprehensively assess the mental health care programs and services that provide support for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents,” said Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill. “This effort backs the everyday mission of our officers to effectively protect those we serve while also keeping one another safe.”
Court-ordered Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), through Kendra’s Law, is up 20% since the Mayor’s took office. Additionally, in 2016, the City increased investment in the Office of Assisted Outpatient Treatment at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene by adding twenty additional staff to ensure people are engaged in AOT. Over the next 30 days, the City will review its use of AOT, or “Kendra’s Law.
Lastly, the City has already pledged historic investments in mobile treatment teams to reach the narrow category of people who have serious mental health needs and pose a risk of violence to themselves or others. Such historic investments in mobile treatment teams include but are not limited to Assertive Community Treatment Teams (ACT) and Forensic Assertive Community Treatment Teams (FACT). In 2016, the City launched Co-Response Teams (CRT) comprised of a mental health professional and police officers to help individuals in crisis. Additionally, the Health Department launched Intensive Mobile Treatment (IMT), an interdisciplinary team including peers that provide long term behavioral health treatment and supportive services. These teams are designed to support people living with a serious mental illness who are not traditionally engaged in care. In 2015, the de Blasio Administration created NYC Safe to provide a continuum of services, including mobile treatment teams, for a subset of people living with a serious mental illness who pose a risk to others.
“As one of the largest providers of behavioral health services in the City, NYC Health + Hospitals connects its patients to high-quality clinical care and to resources available in the community,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “We want to be sensitive to our patients’ needs and customize care to address their unique challenges. We will work closely with the Health Department to ensure coordination around patient care and the services we provide.”
“Ensuring our most vulnerable neighbors get the help they need is our City’s number one priority,” said Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. “Through collaborative, interagency initiatives and interventions like this, we’re committed to continually developing new approaches that better connect New Yorkers experiencing hardship, from housing crises to mental health challenges, to a holistic range of supports and services. As we all work together to close gaps in programs and strengthen our safety net, we are determined to keep doing better by those we serve, as well as those who may need our services, but may not be ready to accept assistance yet. When it comes to extending a hand, we refuse to give up.”
“The risk of serious mental illness leading to violent behavior is already low, but getting real, lasting mental healthcare to those in need makes it even lower,” said Susan Herman, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC. “The Mayor’s Office of ThriveNYC will work across city government to help ensure everyone who needs mental health treatment is connected to it. A safe and healthy NYC demands no less.”