CHP: Cuomo Slams Trump's Call To Reinstitutionalize Mentally Ill

Cuomo Slams Trump's Call To Reinstitutionalize Mentally Ill

Crain’s Health Pulse  August 20, 2019

Gov. Andrew Cuomo thinks President Donald Trump's call to institutionalize the mentally ill is "bizarre."

In a radio appearance Monday, Cuomo defended the practice of releasing people from large asylums and encouraging them to seek care at small, dispersed community facilities. This policy, begun under former President John F. Kennedy, has come under increasing criticism in recent years, as some allege that it has relegated people in need of care to jails, homeless shelters and halfway houses where they do not receive the services they require.

New York has 24 state-run inpatient psychiatric facilities with around 3,500 budgeted beds, which house only 1% of people receiving subsidized mental health support.

"He's talking about reinstitutionalization—put them back into big, congregate facilities. He doesn't even know what he's talking about," Cuomo said.

"People were treated terribly. In the '60s, we developed humanity and said, 'Let's have community-based residences.'"

Cuomo further said that the discussion of mental illness was a diversion from the subject of gun control. Trump suggested committing mentally ill people as an antidote to the mass shootings that wracked Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, earlier this month.

"He knows the issue is guns," the governor said. "He doesn't want to talk about guns, so now it's mental illness."

Panelists at an event last year hosted by the right-leaning Manhattan Institute promoted the idea that reimagined institutions could offer benefits to seriously mentally ill patients that have failed to materialize in community settings.

That idea has been rejected by some advocates in the disability rights community 

"Asylums? We tried that. It failed. They suck the joy out of life," Cliff Zucker, general counsel for Disability Rights New York, an advocacy group in Albany, said in an interview with Crain's last year. "The answer is not asylums and huge investments in hospitals. The answer is investments in community housing and community supports." —Will Bredderman and Jonathan LaMantia