The Policy of NAMI/NYS and NAMI/NYC
as adopted by their respective boards
It is vital to respect the rights of consumers to make their own decisions to the maximum degree that is feasible. But it must also be recognized that, in neurobiological disorders (NBD), the diseased organ is the brain, and the judgement of consumers is occasionally affected by the disease so that they are unable to make the decisions to promote their own welfare that they would make if their judgement was unclouded. The law must address this reality.
In NYS, the dangerousness standard is currently being successfully used as a weapon to prevent seriously ill people from being treated. P&A recently brought class action against Benedictine Hospital, arguing that the hospital was committing patients who were not at the moment of commitment provably actively dangerous. P&A took the position that committing patients on the grounds they were psychotic and had a history of psychiatric deterioration when untreated was not permitted by law.
P&A won the suit, which means unless the law is changed, public, as well as private hospitals will be able to commit patients only if they are immediately provably dangerous. In light of this, and in light of the ways in which NYS law lags behind a number of other states in dealing with the needs of the mentally ill, NAMI/NYC adopts the following policy:
Resolved, that NAMI/NYC will work to achieve changes in the law in the following four areas:
1. Implement a form of outpatient commitment.
2. Change the inpatient commitment standard to allow those who need care to receive it.
In addition, NAMI/NYC will work to preserve the two psychiatrist commitment procedure which is a valuable feature of New York State law.
NAMI/NYC recognizes that creating a better standard will not mean there are automatically facilities to care for all those needing treatment under the standard. But the absence of the standard means that even when treatment facilities are available, the care can not be provided.
3. For individuals committed through court procedures, NAMI/NYC believes the questions of commitment and treatment should be decided in a single hearing at the time of commitment.
4. Past activity should be considered in determining future course of illness.
Adopted by NAMI/NYC and NAMI/NYS.
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