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Assisted Outpatient Treatment

Assisted Outpatient Treatment allows people with mental illness who are unable to cope on their own receive supervision while living in the community. This is an alternative to placing someone in an institution.
Who is eligible for Assisted Outpatient Treatment?
After a hearing, a person may be ordered to receive Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) if a court finds that he or she:
  • is at least 18 years of age and suffers from a mental illness and
  • is unlikely to survive in the community without supervision based on a clinical determination and
  • has a history of non-compliance with treatment for mental illness which has led to 2 hospitalizations for mental illness in the preceding 3 years or resulted in at least 1 act of violence toward self or others, or threats of serious physical harm to self or others, within the preceding 4 years (time period may be extended in the event of current or recent hospitalizations) and
  • is, as a result of his or her mental illness, unlikely to voluntarily participate in outpatient treatment that would enable him or her to live safely in the community and
  • based on treatment history and current behavior, is in need of outpatient treatment to prevent a relapse or deterioration likely to result in serious harm to self or others and
  • will likely benefit from Assisted Outpatient Treatment.
How can someone be referred to the AOT program?
The process begins with the filing of a petition in the supreme or county court where the person alleged to be mentally ill and in need of AOT is present (or is believed to be present).

For more information call 311

Who can refer someone to the Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program?
  • A parent, spouse, adult sibling, or adult child of the person who is mentally ill
  • An adult roommate
  • The director of a hospital in which the person is hospitalized
  • The director of an organization, agency or home in which the person resides or receives services
  • A psychiatrist who is either treating or supervising the person's treatment
  • The social services official or mental health director for the county (or City of New York) where the person is believed to be present
  • A parole or probation officer assigned to supervise the person
  • A licensed social worker or psychologist
How long does the person remain in the AOT Program?
The initial order is effective for up to six months from the date of the order. The order can be extended for successive periods of up to one year each, but any application to extend AOT requires a showing that the person continues to meet all of the AOT criteria.

What happens if the person does not comply with the terms of the court order?
If a physician determines that the person may need involuntary admission to a hospital, the physician may request that the person be transported to a hospital, where the person may be retained for up to 72 hours for an examination to determine if inpatient care and treatment are necessary. Any decision to retain the person beyond the initial 72 hours must be in accordance with the procedures for involuntary admission set forth in the Mental Hygiene Law.

What is the background of the AOT program?
In 1999, New York State Enacted Legislation that provides for assisted outpatient treatment for certain people with mental illness who, in view of their treatment history and present circumstances, are unlikely to survive safely in the community without supervision. This law is commonly referred to as “Kendra’s Law” and is set forth in §9.60 of the Mental Hygiene Law (MHL). It was named after Kendra Webdale, a young woman who died in January 1999 after being pushed in front of a New York City subway train by a person who was living in the community at the time, but was not receiving treatment for his mental illness. In 2005, the law was renewed with several changes, which are noted in this article.

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