Gotham Gazette

The Place for New York Policy and politics

serious mental illness

serious mental illness

  • Jordan Neely, the Social Safety Net, and Blaming the Victim

    Gov. Hochul talks mental health care (photo: Don Pollard/Governor's Office)

    The often competing interests of public safety and compassion toward individuals experiencing homelessness again collided violently in New York City. Jordan Neely, 30, a Black, homeless man, was fatally subdued on the subway recently by a young white former Marine named Daniel Penny. 

    Some consider Mr. Penny a hero; others refer to him as a racist vigilante who put Mr. Neely into a chokehold until death. Many reference...

  • Mayor, City Council Negotiate Priorities for Mental Health Care Workforce Funding

    Mental health plans (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)

    The New York City Council is seeking greater investment in the behavioral health workforce as leaders at all levels of government grapple with the longstanding crisis of untreated severe mental illness.

    The Council and Mayor Eric Adams are negotiating the mayor's $106.7 billion executive budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. On the table is tens of millions of dollars to help boost staffing levels for a range of needed services – some new and some depleted by the pandemic — both in and out of city

  • Max Politics Podcast: The City Council's Mental Health Roadmap, with Council Member Linda Lee

    City Council Member Linda Lee, with Speaker Adrienne Adams & others (photo: John McCarten/NYC Council)

    May 10, 2023 - Max Politics Podcast: The City Council's Mental Health Roadmap, with Council Member Linda Lee

    City Council Member Linda Lee, a Queens Democrat and chair of the Council's mental health committee, joined the show to discuss the CIty Council's mental health roadmap, specific legislation that's part of it, a recent Council hearing on the package, and more.

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

  • Fines for Hospitals that Don't Reactivate Psychiatric Beds Included in New State Budget

    Hospital services (photo: Governor's Office)

    Hospital leaders are "disappointed" to see the state budget include new penalties for hospitals that fail to reopen shuttered psychiatric beds as part of a $1.4 billion plan to beef up New York's mental health care infrastructure.

    Hospitals around the state have been struggling to bring over 1,000 psychiatric beds back online after closing them during the height of the pandemic due to severe staffing shortages and lack of funding.

    The $229 billion budget passed by Governor Kathy

  • State Budget Includes $1 Billion Mental Health Agenda, Additional Push to Restore Psychiatric Beds

    Gov. Hochul talks mental health care (photo: Darren McGee/Governor's Office)

    Governor Kathy Hochul is touting the inclusion of over $1 billion for mental health care in the new $229 billion budget deal recently struck with legislative leaders.

    "When it comes to keeping people safe, there are commonsense places we can start as well. One of them has to do with fixing our mental health system because it is broken, the rates of mental illness have been on the rise, and the pandemic only made matters far worse," Hochul said

  • It Could Take Years to Restore Hospital Psychiatric Beds Statewide, Records Show

    Gov. Hochul talks health care (photo: office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

    It could take years and tens of millions of dollars for upstate hospitals to restore more than 200 psychiatric beds that were shuttered in recent years, owing to major operating deficits and an industry-wide staffing shortage with no end in sight, according to records obtained by Gotham Gazette.

    The delays throw a wrench in Governor Kathy Hochul's plan to restore 1,050 psychiatric beds that had been closed or repurposed statewide during the pandemic – a

  • Navigating a Better Path Forward on Mental Health

    Outreach in the subways (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    Every day on the Lower East Side and throughout the city, teams of dedicated, trained outreach workers walk the streets, searching out folks who seem like they may need a helping hand.

    Perhaps the people they meet are unhoused and would benefit from a hot meal, fresh clothes, or a medical check-up. Maybe they display signs of mental health issues but don’t know how or ...

  • As Psychiatric Beds are Brought Back into Service Slowly, Officials Point to Workforce Shortage

    Gov. Hochul visits a hospital (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    Hospital administrators and state regulators say a severe workforce shortage has stymied efforts to restore a majority of the 1,050 inpatient psychiatric beds removed across the state during the height of the pandemic in 2020.

    Three years later, over 600 beds remain offline, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), despite a $55 million infusion in last year's state budget and another $9 million to support the staffing pipeline.

    The beds have become a focal point for Governor Kathy Hochul

  • State Legislators Push 'Treatment Not Jails Act' to Avoid Incarceration for Many with Mental Illness

    Treatment could be available for more defendants (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    State legislation to expand alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness is gaining momentum in Albany amid debates over how criminal justice, public safety, and mental health care policy interact.

    The Treatment Not Jails Act would require judicial diversion courts in every county of the state and expand the list of special circumstances that qualify a defendant to have their case heard outside a conventional

  • Hochul Presents State of the State Agenda Focused on Public Safety, Housing Development, Mental Health Care, Climate Action, & More

    Gov. Hochul (photo: Governor's Office)

    Governor Kathy Hochul on Tuesday delivered her second State of the State speech, and the first since she was elected to a full term, pledging to tackle crime, boost housing production, advance climate action, and invest heavily in the state’s mental health system to “make New York more affordable, more livable, and safer.”

    Speaking in the Assembly chamber at the Capitol building in Albany, Hochul outlined a broad legislative and policy agenda for the year ahead. It was Hochul’s first fully in-person State of the State address, following last year’s speech

  • Police Have Removed Over 1,300 'Emotionally Disturbed People’ from Transit in 2022; Where Did They Go?

    Mayor Adams on the subway (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography office)

    In the first 11 months of the year, the NYPD removed 1,300 people suffering symptoms of mental illness from the city's transit system, often against their will. The city is unable or unwilling to say what happened to them next.

    "Dealing with people who have mental health illnesses must be a focus of any plan moving forward," Mayor Eric Adams said at an October 22 announcement of a new subway safety campaign with Governor Kathy Hochul, dubbed Cops,

  • 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

  • A Crucial Moment for New York City’s Mental Health Crisis Response Program

    Emergency response (photo: Benjamin Kanter/Mayoral Photo Office)

    The Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division (B-HEARD), New York City’s attempt to reform the way 911 responds to mental health emergencies, has been operating in select neighborhoods for more than a year. And trends are heading in the wrong direction.

    B-HEARD launched in June 2021 as an alternative to NYPD-led response to mental health-related 911 calls, which can often turn...

  • Hochul's 'SOS' Teams Begin Outreach to Homeless People in Subways

    Gov. Hochul & Mayor Adams discuss subway support teams (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)

    Governor Kathy Hochul's Safe Option Support outreach teams have helped find "bed placements" for 150 homeless individuals living in the subways in their first six months of operation, according to the New York State Office of Mental Health.

    The figures, provided to Gotham Gazette after an inquiry, indicate some action by one of Hochul's first major mental health and public safety initiatives as governor, amid rising homelessness and street violence. They also raise more questions about whether

  • 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,”

  • 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

  • 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,

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

    988 hotline to launch this summer (photo: Michael

  • 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

  • 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

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

    dem seek expand

    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

  • 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 ...

  • 10 Dead, Hundreds Infected as State Psychiatric Facilities Become Another Crisis Point in Coronavirus Outbreak

    hospital pano

    Manhattan Psychiatric Center, Wards Island (photo: @nicknormal via Flickr)

    Ten people have died of coronavirus and another 193 have tested positive among the nearly 3,500 residents living in state-run inpatient psychiatric facilities, according to officials, making them one of the hardest hit institutional settings per capita in New York State. Another 283 staff that work at the state's 23 centers have tested positive for COVID-19, which has killed well over 13,000 people across the state.

    After inquiries, the information was provided to Gotham Gazette on

  • How the City's New Jails Plan Accounts for Those with Serious Mental Illness

    Rikers Island inmate detainee

    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    In an historic vote last month, the New York City Council approved the plan to close the Rikers Island jail complex and replace it with four borough-based jails by 2026. When the Council voted through the plan, estimated at $8.7 billion in new construction costs, it also announced, with Mayor Bill de Blasio, a $391-million package of citywide and community investments in criminal justice reforms and initiatives to responsibly accelerate the reduction of the city’s jail population.

    For city officials, one

  • ‘Nobody Should Enter the Criminal Justice System for Something Related to Mental Illness’

    first lady chirl mcc first

    Chirlane McCray on Rikers Island (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor's Office)

    A rising number of 911 calls to report emotionally disturbed persons, several fatal encounters between police officers and people with serious mental illness, and an increasing percentage of seriously mentally ill people among those detained in city jails have all raised questions about how New York City and State provide care for those suffering from the most serious mental illnesses.

    These questions and concerns don’t have easy answers. The city’s public