New York, like every state, has its own civil commitment laws that establish criteria for determining when court-ordered treatment is appropriate for individuals with severe mental illness who are too ill to seek care voluntarily. The state authorizes both inpatient (hospital) and outpatient (community) treatment, which is known in New York as "assisted outpatient treatment." It is one of the 27 states whose involuntary treatment standard is based on a person’s “need for treatment” rather than only the person’s likelihood of being dangerous to self or others.
For inpatient treatment, a person must be meet the following criteria:
- be a danger to self/others;
- have treatment in a hospital deemed essential, and
- be unable to understand need for care and treatment.
For outpatient patient treatment, a person must meet the following criteria:
- be unlikely to survive safely in community without supervision;
- have a history of noncompliance that includes two hospitalizations in past 36 months, or
- act/threaten/attempt violence to self/others in 48 months immediately preceding petition filing;
- be unlikely to voluntarily participate, needs in order to prevent relapse or deterioration likely to result in serious harm to self/others, and
- be likely to benefit from assisted treatment.
State standards for emergency hospitalization for evaluation and state-by-state information on initiating emergency hospitalization and assisted inpatient or outpatient treatment can be found from our Civil Commitment Laws and Standards page.
Kendra’s Law (New York Mental Hygiene Law § 9.60) allows courts to order certain individuals with brain disorders to comply with treatment while living in the community.
New York’s assisted outpatient treatment Law (commonly known as “Kendra’s Law”) has been the subject of two empirical investigations: a 2005 study conducted by the New York State Office of Mental Health (“the OMH study”) and a 2009 evaluation performed under contract with New York State, by an independent research team (“the independent evaluation”). Taken together, the two reports establish that assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) drastically reduces hospitalization, homelessness, arrest, and incarceration among people with severe psychiatric disorders, while increasing adherence to treatment and overall quality of life. The independent evaluation further indicates that the effectiveness of Kendra’s Law is not simply a product of systemic service enhancements but is in part attributable to the value of AOT court orders in motivating treatment compliance. Click here to view the Treatment Advocacy Center's briefing paper on New York's AOT law>>>">Receive your free Guide to Kendra's Law>>
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