Gotham Gazette

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Mental health care

Mental health care

  • Despite State Budget Funding, Little Progress Bringing Psychiatric Beds Back Into Service

    Hospital staff (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    New York State has made little progress bringing 1,000 shuttered psychiatric beds back into service after they were closed during the covid pandemic, raising questions about a signature element of the mental health and public safety agendas of Governor Kathy Hochul and Mayor Eric Adams.

    In the April budget, Hochul and the Legislature allocated $27.5 million in state funding, matched by federal dollars, to restore the roughly 1,050 psychiatric beds shifted at the height of the pandemic when hospitals scrambled to make room for the

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  • What’s Behind the Increased Use of Kendra’s Law in New York City?

    Mayor Adams rides the subway (photo: Mayor's Office)


    When Mayor Eric Adams was on the campaign trail last year, he repeatedly called for city and state officials to step up the use of Kendra's Law – a state law that allows court-ordered outpatient mental health treatment for people deemed dangerous to themselves or others.

    "We must strengthen Kendra’s Law,”

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  • Our Behavioral Healthcare System is in Crisis; Here’s How We Fix It

    Getting help (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Very often patients with serious issues such as active hallucinations, self-harm behavior, severe depression, and suicidality wait for days in common spaces or crowded hospital hallways for observation or the next available inpatient psychiatric bed. I’ve seen patients in need of hospitalization far exceed available beds in New York City.  For someone experiencing a mental health crisis, such an experience can be traumatic and triggering. It impacts quality of care and prolongs and complicates treatment. It

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  • After Push by Hochul and Adams, an Increase in Court-Ordered Mental Health Treatment

    Gov. Hochul and Mayor Adams make an announcement (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    According to state data, the number of people placed under court-ordered mental health treatment since April, when lawmakers expanded the court's power to make such determinations, has increased 60% from the same period a year before.

    The data, provided by the state Office of Court Administration (OCA) to Gotham Gazette after an inquiry, shows that during the four-month period from April through July, 462 people in New York were ordered by a judge to

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  • As Albany Continues to Abandon Homeless New Yorkers, California Considers New Solutions

    Health and housing are tied (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    As roughly 50,000 men, women and children sleep in a New York City homeless shelter each night and the number of people living unsheltered on the streets and subways has increased, the powers that be in Albany bear a large portion of the responsibility for the current state of affairs. It is time that we take a long hard look at what state government has done in this regard instead of putting all the blame on City Hall.

    According to the very

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  • The Rise in Asian Hate is Taking a Mental Toll on New York’s Asian and Pacific Islander Community

    Stop Asian Hate rally (photo: Gerardo Romo/City Council)


    As doctors, we have seen the horrific impact of COVID-19, including the adverse effects of our society's socioeconomic divides, social injustices, and widespread racism during this same period. These social ills coupled with the profound health impact the pandemic has had on our nation have intensified the mental health crisis facing Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI). Xenophobia in the United States exploded in the early months of the pandemic and has shown us that what followed the onset of the pandemic

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  • Alarming Workforce Shortage Facing Youth Mental Health Care Workers

    NYC Youth (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Many industries are struggling with their workforce since the pandemic, and the children’s mental health workforce is no different. Capacity and workforce retention have always been a challenge in the human services field, with providers expected to do more with less and families facing increasingly longer backlogs and wait times for appointments.  

    Statistics show that 1 in 6 U.S. youth experience a mental health condition each year, but only half get

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  • Expansion of Kendra's Law, Funding for Psychiatric Beds Among State Budget Decisions on Mental Illness Policy

    Gov. Hochul speaks to health care providers (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)


    Embedded in the $220 billion state budget lawmakers adopted this past weekend is a controversial expansion of Kendra's Law, which allows judges to mandate mental health treatment, including inpatient commitment, to people with mental illness deemed a danger to themselves or others.

    The change to the state's mental hygiene law, one of a handful of contentious final proposals pushed by Governor Kathy Hochul,

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  • How New York City Must Prepare for a Successful Launch of 988 Mental Health Crisis Hotline

    988 hotline to launch this summer (photo: Michael

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  • A Critical Opportunity for New York to Increase Care Not Coercion for Those Living with Serious Mental Illness

    Health care at the hospital (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    Far too many New Yorkers living with serious mental illnesses have been left to languish in our streets, hospitals, jails, and prisons without adequate access to the health care, housing, employment, and other rehabilitative and supportive services they need to survive and thrive.

    Thankfully, help is on the way this year. In the next week, the Governor and State Legislature will work to pass a budget launching an unprecedented number of initiatives to help New

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  • State Aims to Reinstate Hundreds of Psychiatric Beds Shifted During Pandemic

    (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo)

    Medical evaluation (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    New York State is looking to reinstate all of the roughly 400 beds in the state's inpatient psychiatric system that were converted to medical beds at the start of the pandemic two years ago. But there is a long road to restore them despite mounting pressure from elected officials, representatives of the state Office of Mental Health (OMH) told lawmakers at a joint state legislative budget hearing Monday.

    "Across the state there have been

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  • After Subway Shoving, Officials Look to Expand State Laws on Mandatory Treatment for Mental Illness

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    Subway outreach (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In January 1999, Kendra Webdale, a 32-year-old writer, was pushed to her death into the path of an oncoming N train by a schizophrenic man. Webdale’s death prompted the passage of the eponymously named Kendra’s Law, which allows courts to order a person to receive supervised mental health treatment, also known as assisted outpatient treatment, failing which they can be temporarily committed to a hospital.

    Twenty-three years later, the killing of 40-year-old Michelle Go in eerily

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  • Max Politics Podcast: Addressing the Crisis of Untreated Severe Mental Illness

    Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

    Mental health first aid training (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    February 8, 2022 - Max Politics Podcast: Addressing the Crisis of Untreated Severe Mental Illness

    Harvey Rosenthal, CEO of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), joined the show to discuss how New York City and State should address the crisis of untreated severe mental illness among New Yorkers.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter ...

  • State Psychiatric Facilities, Home to Especially Vulnerable Patients, Hit with Another Covid Surge

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    Mid-Hudson Psychiatric Center (photo: omh.ny.gov)


    State-run psychiatric hospitals have been engulfed by this winter's coronavirus surge, casting one of the most vulnerable populations back into the pandemic's path and miring the state agency responsible for them.

    Confirmed covid cases among patients and staff living and working in the state's 24 inpatient psychiatric centers have been ticking up for the last several weeks before jumping significantly more recently, mirroring the trend around the state.

    In less than two weeks, from December 20 to January 2, the

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  • To Meet Children’s Mental Health Crisis, Support Our Social Workers

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)

    Helping children through a pandemic (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The Surgeon General’s rare public advisory made official what we as social workers have known for 22 months – that the pandemic has accelerated a mental health crisis for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and

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  • Taking Mental Health Care in New York City to the Next Level

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    Mental health first responders via B-HEARD


    Last week, the New York City Council voted to amend the City Charter to establish the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health as a permanent part of our city government. The vote comes at a critical time – as New Yorkers continue to feel the long-lasting mental health consequences of the pandemic.

    The vote is also the culmination of years of work. In the wake of decades of state and federal neglect that left too many people without the mental healthcare they need, New York City became

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  • 'I'm Very Social Services Oriented': Diana Ayala on Mental Health Policy, Running for City Council Speaker, and More

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    Council Member Diana Ayala (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    The New York City Council Speaker should be someone who deeply understands people’s struggles and will take a social services focus to the powerful leadership position, argues City Council Member Diana Ayala.

    During a recent appearance on the Max Politics podcast from Gotham Gazette, Ayala discussed her experience representing the 8th Council District, which includes East Harlem and

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  • Max Politics Podcast: City Council Member Diana Ayala on Mental Health Oversight, Running for Speaker, & More

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    City Council Member Diana Ayala (photo: Jeff Reed/City Council)


    November 24, 2021 - Max Politics Podcast: City Council Member Diana Ayala on Mental Health Oversight, Running for Speaker, & More

    City Council Member Diana Ayala joined the show to discuss her work in the City Council, especially on mental health policy oversight, her run for City Council Speaker, and more.

    Listen to the conversation and let us know what you think, on Twitter @TweetBenMax. You can listen to the

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  • Exercising Mental Fitness as We Move Forward with Our Covid Recovery

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    New York City (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    In Southern California, three generations of a family gathered their separate households under one roof to weather the pandemic -- and liked it so much they decided to make it permanent. On the Upper West Side of Manhattan, students organized to buy groceries and essentials for the housebound. And as the virus surged, a nationwide ...

  • Preventing Student Suicide in New York State

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    High school students (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)


    This month, as our children return for another pandemic school year, there has never been a more important time to have an honest conversation about mental health. 

    As a member of the New York Assembly Committee on Education, I have heard from countless parents and young people about how the pandemic has exacerbated the pre-existing psychological strains of depression and anxiety. These come on top of the pressures youth have faced for years, from navigating identity issues

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  • Addressing the Rise in Mental Health Challenges Among Hispanic Youth

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    Students at school (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    Young people are often uncomfortable asking for help. Now imagine there is a language barrier as well. Children, teens, and young adults are currently battling social isolation, loneliness, and mental illness in increasing numbers, and the language barrier greatly exacerbates this for Spanish-speaking youth and their families. 

    Access to mental health services has traditionally been lower for this community. More than half of Hispanic young

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  • Amid Rising Overdoses, Mental Health and Harm Reduction Support More Important Than Ever

    Gotham Gazette: Amid rising overdoses, mental health and harm reduction support is more important

    The Mayor at an overdose prevention event (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    I know what it’s like to be on the front lines of an infectious disease. I launched my career in harm reduction in the 1980s, at the height of the HIV epidemic. Just like with HIV, the fallout from COVID-19 is not limited to the lives we’ve lost to the infection itself—there are ripple effects that will be felt long after our city fully re-opens.

    This time, it’s the twin tragedy of the

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  • State Allows Psychiatric Facilities to Forcibly Vaccinate Patients Against COVID-19

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The New York State Office of Mental Health quietly issued guidance in April allowing psychiatric centers to vaccinate patients for COVID-19 over patient objections and without a court order in a unusual break from treatment protocols. The policy makes psychiatric patients in state custody one of the only adult populations in New York subject to forcible vaccination.

    The guidance, issued April 22, is a "clarification" giving hospital staff discretion to administer the vaccine without consent, an

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  • For CUNY Students to Thrive, Mental Health Services Must Be Expanded

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    The CUNY Chancellor and students (photo: @CUNY)


    Graduating when the pandemic first hit New York City was hard for many students. To say that having access to a counselor during a time of increasing uncertainty and hopelessness was beneficial is an understatement - it was many students' lifeline. However, for countless students and peers, they are not so fortunate.

    The effect of the last year on CUNY students can not be overstated. In a recent ...

  • Letter to the Editor: Keeping 911 in the City’s Mental Health Emergency Response

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    Emergency (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    To the editor:

    Last week, I joined the final day of training for the new teams who will soon begin responding to 911 mental health calls in East Harlem and Harlem. Through this pilot program - the Behavioral Emergency Response Assistance Division or B-HEARD - mental health professionals will be part of 911 response for the first time in New York City history. It's part of our commitment as a city to treat mental health crises as issues of public health, not public

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