Mental Hygiene Arrest

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Getting help for your child when they become a danger to others or themselves

Considering a mental hygiene arrest

NYS Mental Hygiene Law permits certain individuals to arrange for people to be brought to a hospital for further evaluation (which could result in an inpatient psychiatric admission). Although the phrase "mental hygiene arrest" (or MHA) is often used to describe this process, it is important to note that it is not really an "arrest" per se (as there is no accusation of criminal behavior).

A more accurate term would be "mental health intervention" - as it is an intervention that results in individuals being brought to a hospital, often contrary to their wishes.

Law enforcement can take someone to a hospital if the person appears to be suffering from a mental illness and there is some element of dangerousness (to self or others). Certain mental health clinicians in the community have also been designated to be able to direct law enforcement to transport someone (or arrange for that transport via ambulance) to a hospital (if those same two criteria are met: mental illness and danger to self or others).

Why would someone call the police in a psychiatric emergency? 

If there is immediate danger and others interventions have not been successful, calling 911 is recommended. However, other interventions should be tried prior to calling police (if at all possible). 

If the person who is distressed is already involved in the mental health system, attempting to reach the mental health professionals that are working with the child and family is recommended. Another option is requesting assistance from the Rochester Community Mobile Crisis Team (that can be accessed via Life Line by dialing 211). 

The Mobile Crisis Team may be able to arrange for a visit to the person's home (or other location) to assess the situation and make recommendations for next steps to more thoroughly address the problem.  Of course, family members are also able to bring their child(ren) to any of the three emergency rooms in Monroe County that conduct emergency mental health evaluations (Rochester General Hospital, St. Mary's aslo known as Unity Health Systems, and Strong.)

What could they possibly do to help?

If family members judge that an emergency mental health evaluation is needed, and waiting for the Mobile Crisis Team is not possible (which can take a few hours or sometimes may not be available until the next day), then taking a family member, even a child or youth, to an emergency room is often the best option.

However, if the person is in so much distress and/or uncooperative to the point that transporting them to the hospital is likely to be dangerous, the police are usually able to respond more immediately and determine whether the person meets the criteria to be brought to a hospital against their will.

The Rochester Police Department has a specialized team of police officers who have received advanced training in recognizing and responding to mental health crises. The team is called the Emotionally Disturbed Persons Response Team (or "EDPRT").

When family members (who are within the City of Rochester) decide to call 911 for a mental health emergency, requesting an EDPRT response is recommended. 

Please note: an EDPRT response will not always be possible

While other police departments in Monroe County do not have a specialized mental health response team, many have officers who have had advanced mental health training and all police officers have had some training in mental health-related matters.


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