The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Families, mental-health groups disagree on how best to continue Kendra’s Law

The last time I posted something on this topic, I was blasted by several comments.  In order to show as many sides to this story as possible, I will therefore post any articles I find about Kendra’s Law here for the reader to peruse and make an informed decision on what this means and what they feel about this law.

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Advocates for making Kendra’s Law permanent, rather than extending it for five years, urged the Senate and Assembly to support legislation to do that. Advocates for making the law permanent conceded today that the bill to extend the law likely will be passed by the Senate and Assembly.

Kendra’s Law is named for Kendra Webdale, who was pushed in front of a New York City subway train by a mentally ill man with a history of hospitalizations. It authorizes court-ordered outpatient treatment for individuals with serious mental illness who potentially are a danger to themselves or others. The law was first passed in 1999, after Kendra’s death, and it was renewed for five years in 2005. It expires June 30. Kendra’s mother, Pat Webdale, was one of the speakers at a news conference today.

“The more families I speak to about Kendra’s Law who have received services, the more that I know what a godsend this law actually is,” said Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, Cattaraugus County, who is sponsoring a bill that would make the law permanent. The Assembly sponsor is Aileen Gunther, D-Forestburgh, Sullivan County.

The state Office of Mental Health is recommending a five-year extender on the law while more research is conducted on its effectiveness, but Young, Gunther and others contend its effectiveness has already been proven and it should be made permanent.

“For these people who are affected by Kendra’s Law, just having it renewed every five years is not good enough because they know that it could be dismantled sometime in the future,” Young said.

Advocates for extending the law for five years said it has been implemented differently around the state and has disproportionately affected people who are black or Hispanic.

“We owe Kendra’s mom, Pat, an enormous thank you for her tireless and miraculous efforts on behalf of Kendra’s memory, and all New Yorkers living with mental illness,” said Travis Proulx, a spokesman for Senate Majority Democrats. “Because of Pat, Kendra’s Law has been an enormously successful program in ensuring those with mental illness have access to the services they need.”

Senate Democrats are pleased the five-year extender has passed the Mental Health Committee and “are continuing to work with advocates, health care providers and others to consider permanent alternatives,” he said.

Harvey Rosenthal, president of the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, said both sides want to see improvements in mental-health services and help keep people with mental illnesses out of prisons. NYAPRS is supporting the five-year extender bill.

“We just disagree on how to get it done,” he said.

Read more about this article and about Kendra’s Law by clicking here

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June 7, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , , ,

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