Social workers on NYC's mental health initiative: Involuntary hospitalization violates profession's values

New York City's newest mental health initiative has sparked backlash from social workers based on its plans to involuntarily hospitalize people with mental health issues who pose a threat to themselves or others.

The National Association of Social Workers-New York City Chapter's response to Mayor Eric Adams' initiative cites what it views as faults with the plan, which they said "goes against the core values of the social work profession," according to a Dec. 6 news release from the organization. 

Problems with the strategy mentioned by the association include how it will put the responsibility of identifying those experiencing a psychiatric emergency on first responders, does not mention any crisis de-escalation training and will further the stigma of mental illness, according to the release. 

The organization said it will not support the legislation until critical questions about the plan are answered, including how the initiative will be funded, what the city will do to support patients post-discharge and other concerns. The association suggested a partnership between the city and social workers to rework the plan. 

"We remain hopeful that the Adams administration, elected officials and other stakeholders will be willing to extend the offer of partnership to NASW-NYC and the social work community, in better service to New York City," the association said in the release.

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