Democratic Mayors Reverse Course On Psychiatric Treatments For Homeless

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Big-city Democratic mayors are pushing for mentally ill homeless people to be placed in psychiatric care, a reversal from their previous positions, according to reporting by Politico.

According to the report, many Democratic mayors have changed their mind on involuntary commitment for homeless individuals due to the rise in urban crime and the increasingly visible problem of psychiatric illness among the homeless population. Likewise, many liberal politicians and policymakers reportedly have started to question whether allowing mental illness to fester unchecked on the streets is more cruel than cracking down.

“There’s individuals who are really suffering, maybe don’t know that they’re suffering, and we just keep walking by,” said California Secretary of Health and Human Services Mark Ghaly, according to Politico. (RELATED: San Francisco’s Homeless Population Is Surging — And Getting More Violent)

To crack down on mental illness among the homeless, many Democratic mayors are reportedly tweaking civil commitment laws by loosening the standards. Loosening these laws would allow for cities to more aggressively take mentally ill homeless people off the street and place them in psychiatric health facilities.

In Nov. 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams released a plan to force mentally ill and dangerous individuals on the street into psychiatric care.

Although the laws tend to differ by state, is it generally the case that persons the state determines to be unable to care for themselves and at risk of harming themselves or others can be involuntarily hospitalized so their individual healthcare needs can be assessed. The court could also mandate treatment for the individual, such as therapy and medication, in exchange for shelter.

Not everyone, however, is on board with lowering the bar for civil commitment laws.

Disability Rights Oregon, a mental health advocacy organization, claims that relaxing civil commitment laws would be tantamount to criminalizing disability. Instead, they argue that governments should widen the variety of public services available to the mentally ill.

“In Oregon we are criminalizing disability,” said Emily Cooper, an advocate with Disability Rights Oregon, according to Koin 6 News. “The state hospital is being misused as a form of pre-trial detention based on stereotypes and discriminatory bias toward people with mental illness.”