Advocates demand change in NYC’s response to mental health crises
Officials and advocates called on City Hall to change the city’s approach to mental health crises.
The program in question is the Behavioral Health Emergency Assistance Response Division, or “B-HEARD.” The program launched last year in Harlem and Washington Heights and has expanded to more of Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.
B-HEARD is part of the city’s effort to treat mental health crises as public health problems rather than issues of public safety.
“"It's supposed to be a non-police mental health crisis response,” said Jordyn Rosenthal, advocacy coordinator for Community Access. “But in reality, 84% of all of the calls actually go to police."
Cal Hedigan, CEO of Community Access, said that 19 people have been killed in those police encounters of mental health crises over the last seven years.
The family of one of those 19 victims appeared today alongside advocates from CCIT-NYC and NAMI-NYC, two organizations pushing for these changes.
Those outside City Hall are demanding for the program’s coverage and hours of operation to increase.