Mental health experts share solutions to the city’s crisis

Crain’s Health Pulse
September 19, 2022
Maya Kaufman

New York can improve its mental health care system for people who are homeless and living with serious mental illness with more housing, more hospitals beds and higher reimbursement rates for mental health care, experts say.

Other changes they suggest:
● Emergency room doctors should be required to get a second opinion on decisions not to admit psychiatric patients who are under an active court order to receive mental health treatment through Kendra’s Law, ACT providers suggested.
● The state should expand its loan forgiveness program for social workers, said Nadia Chait, the Coalition for Behavioral Health’s associate director of policy and advocacy.
● Intensive mobile treatment teams should have dedicated housing specialists, said Bielkis Santos, a social worker with the Institute for Community Living.
● Advocates and former officials call for increased reliance on peer counselors, who have gone through a similar ordeal as the clients they help.
● The city should further invest in flexible models free from strict documentation and staffing requirements, such as intensive mobile treatment and Pathway Home, which
helps individuals transition from hospitals to the community, said Dr. Jorge Petit, president and ceo of Services for the UnderServed.
● Mental health courts should meet more frequently and continue remote hearings, said Dr. Gordon Frankle, chief of psychiatric services for NYU Langone–Brooklyn.
● The city should expand street outreach programs that do not depend on people to come inside to get care, then create more Safe Haven beds to quickly bring them off the streets, said Amie Pospisil, chief operating officer of Breaking Ground.

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