New York Mental Health Law
New York Law for court-ordered drug rehab and involuntary assessment, commitment, and treatment for mental health disorders on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Kendra’s Law provides for court-ordered care for outpatient treatment in the State of New York.
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Kendra’s Law New York
In 1999, New York State Enacted Legislation that provides for assisted outpatient treatment for certain people with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. This law is commonly referred to as “Kendra’s Law” and is outlined in §9.60 of the Mental Hygiene Law (MHL). It was named after Kendra Webdale, a young woman who died in January 1999 after being pushed in front of a New York City subway train by a person living in the community at the time but was not receiving treatment for his mental illness. In 2005, the law was renewed with several changes, which are noted in this article.
Mental Hygiene Law New York
When someone is admitted to a New York psychiatric center under the Mental Hygiene Law, the admission falls under one of three general categories: informal, voluntary, or involuntary.
Informal admission occurs when someone requests treatment and is admitted without a formal or written application. The patient is free to leave at any time while on such an admission status.
Voluntary admission occurs when someone who is 16 or older applies in writing for admission. If the person is under 18, the parent, legal guardian, custodian, or next of kin may have the authority to apply on the person’s behalf.
A voluntary status patient may make a written request for discharge at any time. If the patient is under age 18, the request for discharge may also be made by the person who applied for the patient’s admission, by another person of an equal or closer relationship, or by the Mental Hygiene Legal Service.
A voluntary patient who submits a written request to leave the hospital must be released unless the psychiatric center director believes that the person meets the requirements for involuntary admission and needs to stay. In this case, the director must apply to a judge within 72 hours to keep the patient.
Suppose you are hospitalized as either a voluntary or informal status patient. In that case, you must be informed periodically of your status and rights, including your right to assistance from the mental hygiene legal service. Once a year the psychiatric center director and the Mental Hygiene Legal Service must review each voluntary or informal status patient’s suitability and willingness to remain on such status.
Involuntary admission can take place in one of three ways:
- Medical certification requires that two physicians examine a person and certify that he or she needs involuntary care and treatment in a psychiatric facility. This is sometimes known informally as a “two p.c.” shorthand for “two physicians certify.” This certification must be accompanied by an application for admission, made by someone familiar with the individual (for example, a legal guardian, custodian, next of kin, treating psychiatrist or someone who lives with the person) or by one of several government officials.
If you are involuntarily admitted on a medical certificate, or converted to that status, you may be kept in a psychiatric center for up to 60 days. Suppose you – or a relative, friend or the Mental Hygiene Legal Service – believe that you do not need to be involuntarily hospitalized. In that case, you or any of the others may apply for a court hearing on this matter.
At the end of this 60 days, and periodically after that, the psychiatric center director must apply to a judge for authorization to retain you as an involuntary status patient. You must be notified when such an application is made, and you have the right to object and be represented by the Mental Hygiene Legal Service or your attorney at the hearing.
- Certification by a director of community services, or an examining physician designated by the director of community services.
This certificate states that the person has a mental illness, which is likely to result in serious harm to self or others and for which immediate inpatient care and treatment is appropriate.
If you are admitted in this way, you must be examined within 72 hours by a staff psychiatrist. If the psychiatrist confirms that you meet the requirements for involuntary admission based on medical certification, you may be kept in the psychiatric center for up to 60 days. The procedure for involuntary retention beyond 60 days, and the patient’s right to a hearing, are the same as outlined in Section 1, above.
- Emergency admission based on the claim that the person has a mental illness, which is likely to result in serious harm to self or others and for which immediate observation, care, and treatment in a psychiatric center is appropriate.
If you are admitted in this way, you must be examined within 48 hours by a staff psychiatrist. If he or she confirms that you meet the requirements for emergency admission, you may be kept in the psychiatric center for up to 15 days. For you to be kept involuntarily beyond 15 days, you must meet the requirements for, and be converted to, an involuntary admission based on medical certification.
State laws are in place to support court-ordered involuntary treatment. Nevertheless, careful planning with a unified approach is essential for successfully using the laws to significantly increase the long term prognosis for your loved one’s recovery. Although we do not provide legal advice, we do provide services to help support the recovery process for all impacted by mental illness and substance abuse throughout the State of New York.