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IMPORTANT & BREAKING: FAMILIES IN MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS ACT INTRODUCED

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Newsday 2/22/10 Editorial

EDITORIAL: Make Kendra's Law permanent

February 22, 2010 

Tragedies like the death of Kendra Webdale, who was pushed in front of a subway train by a man with a history of psychiatric illness, have declined dramatically since involuntary outpatient treatment of the mentally ill was authorized in New York State in 1999. So has homelessness and suicide for those receiving the intensive case management the law provided. Those are good outcomes all around.

So Kendra's Law, which will expire soon, should be made permanent. The legislature shouldn't lose sight of that as it returns to work this week, no matter how full its agenda. The law addresses the dilemma of mentally ill people who function well while on medication, but deteriorate badly when not. It empowers relatives and caregivers to petition a court to order that a patient be provided - and accept - intensive outpatient supervision.

The law was reauthorized temporarily in 2005, amid questions about geographical and racial disparities in its application. Blacks were disproportionately under court orders, and the majority of the orders were issued in New York City and Nassau and Suffolk counties. Studies since then have attributed the disparity to the greater likelihood that blacks would be poor, uninsured and in the public system. And there seems little difference in the impact of intensive case management whether court ordered, as it was downstate, or provided "voluntarily," under threat of court order, as it was upstate.

Either way, the result is fewer needless deaths like Webdale's.

 


The information on Mental Illness Policy Org. is not legal advice or medical advice. Do not rely on it. Discuss with your lawyer or medical doctor. Mental Illness Policy Org was founded in February 2011 and in order to maintain independence does not accept any donations from companies in the health care industry or government. That makes us dependent on the generosity of people who care about these issues. If you can support our work, please send a donation to Mental Illness Policy Org., 50 East 129 St., Suite PH7, New York, NY 10035. Thank you. Contact office@mentalillnesspolicy.org Contact DJ Jaffe, founder http://mentalillnesspolicy.org.