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Evidence that America is finally facing the crisis of urban mental illness



Could it be that decision makers are finally taking serious mental illness seriously? New Yorkers can be excused for missing the change, as they are responsible for the abuses and incompetents that have long been typical of the mental illness policy.

This month, lawyer Jumaane Williams has uncovered the fact of hundreds of thousands of phone calls to 911 for a mental health crisis, not one leading to the deployment of a mobile mental health team.

Our mental health system seems to be bottoming out: prisons are drowning in people with mental illness, streets are littered with the chronically ill, making headlines about one avoidable tragedy after another.

But as failures accumulate, there are signs of hope across the country ̵

1; in the form of citizens rising to demand accountability and prioritizing the most critically ill.

In New York Mayor de Blasio's wide-ranging mental illness boondoggle ThriveNYC finally gives way to a targeted focus on the most seriously ill.

The mayor is absent ice has announced a 30-day intensive review of the application of the Kendra Law and an investment of $ 37 million to fill gaps in services for people with severe mental illness. In addition, psychiatric helpers will now accompany NYPD officials who respond to mental illness crises. The pointless murders in Chinatown seem to have fueled the realization that it's politically untenable to spend precious dollars on mental health on frivolous projects, while spending on mental health is nearly twice as high. London Breed offers the ability to service the neediest prioritize.

Despite a vociferous urge to throw good money after bad, their response was a coherent, serious effort to satisfy the urgent needs of the sick in San Francisco. Their UrgentCareSF plan includes 1,000 new beds in the city's treatment system and improved application of the Laura Law (California's version of the Kendra Law).

Even the federal government seems to have seen the light. A series of congressional hearings triggered by the tragedy of Sandy Hook revealed a distressing lack of attention to serious mental illness at federal agencies.

Their findings indicated that a 117-page strategic plan was foreseen for the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services. The administration did not even mention the words "schizophrenia" or "bipolar disorder." In retrospect, it should come as no surprise, as the agency did not have a single psychiatrist among its more than 600 employees.

The agency is Elinore McCance-Katz, a respected addiction psychiatrist. Under her leadership, the federal government has implemented a million-dollar national Kendra Legislative Assistance Program, repeatedly calling on states to rethink the treatment criteria to ensure that the critically ill are treated before they become dangerous to themselves or anyone else.

The Trump Administration Has Even Steps have been taken to catalyze the creation of much-needed treatment beds by changing Medicaid's long-standing laws to reimburse hospitalization costs.

That does not mean that the war is over. It is inevitable that policy-makers forget some of these lessons and fall back on difficult decisions and waste the momentum built by the current crisis. Lawyers need to be vigilant to protect themselves.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is already under attack because he has not fully adopted Williams' recommendations. The Town Hall has shut down further expansion of the Kendra Law, although it has become a national model through its success in reaching the critically ill.

Have policymakers really started to take serious mental illness seriously? It is impossible to say at this early stage. But we have seen that we all suffer if they do not.

John Snook is the executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to removing barriers to the treatment of those with severe mental illness.


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