NYC Board Of Health Amends Health Code Expanding Access For Those With Psychosis

September 13, 2018

The New York City Board of Health yesterday approved an amendment to the Health Code to lower the age to 16 when hospitals are required to report a patient admitted with first-episode psychosis to the Health Department. Psychosis includes schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders where a person has lost touch with reality. Approximately 2,000 new cases of psychosis develop each year in New York City, and the Health Department estimates that 6 percent of first-episode admissions, or approximately 120 cases, occur among persons between ages 16 and 17 years. The Health Code previously required hospitals to report people between ages 18 and 30. After admission to the hospital, patients can join the Health Department’s free NYC Supportive Transition and Recovery Team (NYC START) program, which connects patients to trained social workers, peer specialists and recovery services for three months. Since NYC START launched in 2014, 1,206 eligible patients (73 percent) accepted care services, and this year 86 percent of program participants attended mental health appointments within 30 days of leaving the hospital.

“The first episode of psychosis is a critical time for an intervention. We know that when we engage New Yorkers at their first episode we are more likely to get them into care and connected to critical mental health services,” said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “New Yorkers experiencing a first episode of psychosis qualify for three months of linkages to mental health services, and today’s amendment will help us connect more of them to care.”

Proposed Changes:

  • Require hospitals to report admissions of 16- and 17-year-olds admitted for their first episode of psychosis.
  • Include the name and contact information for parents or guardians as part of the reportable information for a minor.
  • Require hospitals to report adults who were first admitted as 16- or 17-year-olds, who otherwise would not have been reported.
  • Broaden the confidentiality provisions to further clarify that identifying information will be kept confidential.
  • Address racial inequity among first-episode psychosis referrals from inpatient psychiatric care.
  • Extend the length of outreach beyond the first 30 days for people who have been unreachable or not ready to connect to these services earlier.

NYC START. Launched in 2014, NYC START is a free program offered by the NYC Health Department for young adults who are hospitalized for a first episode of psychosis. All New York City hospitals must report admission to the Health Department within 24 hours of diagnosis.


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