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EDITORIAL: Sanity on insanity: Pardon this interruption to Mayor de Blasio and Chirlane McCray's national conference on mental health

The New York Daily News - 11/18/2019

Nov. 18--At a city conference Monday and Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will join representatives from cities across the country and talk up their ThriveNYC mental health program.

The initiative has mainly raised awareness and connected New Yorkers with not-especially-serious diagnoses with counseling. That's not nothing, but it's not worth a $850 million three-year price tag.

What would be a more worthwhile investment is effectively aiming cash, medication and professional psychiatric services at New Yorkers who wrestle with destabilizing and debilitating mental illness, especially the very few who are dangers to themselves or others.

To get from here to there, McCray and de Blasio must do less lecturing and more listening.

In Miami, a judge has referred people with serious untreated mental illnesses to care that actually addresses their problems. Recidivism rates are falling; officer shootings of emotionally disturbed people are declining.

In San Antonio, police have looked to get mentally ill people accused of crimes treatment at the earliest possible opportunity rather than letting them cycle through emergency rooms and jails.

New York has Kendra's Law, which gives judges the power to order people who present an imminent danger into outpatient treatment. It's a valuable tool, but it's not used nearly enough.

It's now been 37 days since, in the wake of the murder of four homeless men by a mentally disturbed homeless man, de Blasio ordered a 30-day review of intervention programs including Kendra's Law. Are reforms forthcoming?

His conference will feature plenty of self-congratulation. How about self-scrutiny?


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