It's not on the national agenda. It's not full proof -- it's not as complete as we'd like -- but it has had a significant impact in New York -- and needs to be extended on a national level to help prevent and assist those persons with KNOWN mental health issues to cope -- without going off the deep end:
Kendra's Law, effective since November 1999, is a New York State law concerning involuntary outpatient commitment. It grants judges the authority to issue orders that require people who meet certain criteria to regularly undergo psychiatric treatment. Failure to comply could result in commitment for up to 72 hours. Kendra's Law does not require that patients are forced to take medication.
It was originally proposed by members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness , the Alliance on Mental Illness of New York State, and many local NAMI chapters throughout the state. They were concerned that laws were preventing individuals with serious mental illness from receiving care until after they became "dangerous to self or others". They felt the law should work to prevent violence, not require it. They viewed outpatient commitment as a less expensive, less restrictive more humane alternative to inpatient commitment.
The members of NAMI, working with NYS Assemblywoman Elizabeth Connelly, NYC Department of Mental Health Commissioner, Dr. Luis Marcos, and Dr. Howard Telson were successful in getting a pilot outpatient commitment program started.
As a result of the opposition to Kendra's Law, two studies were conducted on Kendra's Law. One was released in 2005 and one in 2009.
The 2005 study found:
Specifically, the Office of Mental Health (OMH) study found that for those in the Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program:
- 74 percent fewer recipients experienced homelessness;
- 77 percent fewer recipients experienced psychiatric hospitalization;
- 83 percent fewer recipients experienced arrest; and
- 87 percent fewer recipients experienced incarceration.
- 55 percent fewer recipients engaged in suicide attempts or physical harm to self;
- 49 percent fewer recipients abused alcohol;
- 48 percent fewer recipients abused drugs;
- 47 percent fewer recipients physically harmed others;
- 46 percent fewer recipients damaged or destroyed property; and
- 43 percent fewer recipients threatened physical harm to others.
- 75 percent reported that AOT helped them gain control over their lives;
- 81 percent said that AOT helped them to get and stay well; and
- 90 percent said AOT made them more likely to keep appointments and take medication.
We don't have anything like it in Florida -- we should.