NYT on Hurricane Sandy and the Mental Health Crisis System
Good piece in today's Times on the disruptive effects of Hurricane Sandy on the mental health crisis system in New York City. Excerpts:
Psychiatric hospital admission is always a judgment call. But in the city, according to hospital records and interviews with psychiatrists and veteran advocates of community care, the odds of securing mental health treatment in a crisis have worsened significantly since the hurricane. The storm’s surge knocked out several of the city’s largest psychiatric hospitals, disrupted outpatient services and flooded scores of coastal nursing homes and “adult homes” where many mentally ill people had found housing of last resort.
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The storm battered a mental health system that still relies heavily on private nursing homes and substandard adult homes to house people with mental illness. Such institutions have a sordid history of neglect and exploitation, and the courts have repeatedly found that their overuse by the state isolated thousands of people in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Plans are under way to increase supportive housing — dwellings where mentally ill people can live relatively independently, with support services. But even before Hurricane Sandy, the expansion fell far short of demand.