The city says 40 percent of adult New Yorkers with serious mental illness like schizophrenia are not getting the treatment they need, yet a new plan to transform the mental health system focuses largely on those with more common disorders like anxiety. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.
"I called 911 which I've done in the past for my son, Terrence Hale. I called and I said I need an ambulance, my son is bipolar and the lady told me the ambulance would be there," recalls Vearry Hale.
The ambulance never came that day in 2012, but the police did - confronting Terrence Hale outside his Harlem building as he was having a bipolar episode.
"I said please don't do this, you'll only make the situation worse than what it is," says Hale.
Hale suddenly stabbed a detective in the head.
"The police and the ambulance should have arrived. I didn't think that this was going to happen," says Hale.
Hale's son, now serving a 25-year sentence, had run-ins with police before. Because of his mental illness the courts could have forced him into treatment and supervision well before that tragic day.
"The most effective program we have is Kendra's Law. It reduces homelessness, arrest, suicide, incarceration, in the 70 percent range. There's not any other program in the city, state, or nation that does that, but that's the one we're avoiding," says DJ Jaffe, Executive Director of Mental Illness Policy Org.
The de Blasio administration on Monday unveiled its roadmap to overhaul the mental health system. It envisions training up to 10,000 police officers to better handle emotionally disturbed persons, opening two drop-off centers where police can take those needing treatment and building housing with supportive services.
"We have expanded capacity to manage Kendra's Law applications. But the bulk of NYC Safe is to do what we can do without mandating treatment. There are a range of strategies that are mentioned in the roadmap to try to prevent as much as we can of these people ending up in jail," says Dr. Gary Belkin, Executive Deputy Commissioner for Mental Hygiene.
But it remains to be seen whether the plan will alter a sad fact - that many seriously mentally ill people end up in prison.
Some advocates call the mayor's plan a start but say more is needed for the most ill.
"We are finding solutions to very serious mental health problems but we have a long way to go," notes Wendy Brennan, Executive Director of NAMI-NYC Metro.