The state Division of Criminal Justice and Office of Mental Health released a 22-minute video Tuesday outlining how mental health professionals must report patients who are considered dangerous.
The video not only describes the requirements of the so-called NY SAFE Act, it also provides a tutorial of how to fill out the online reporting forms. The mental health provisions of the law go into effect Saturday.
As explained on the video by John Allen, special assistant to the commissioner of OMH, the controversial gun law requires physicians, psychologists, registered nurses and licensed social workers to report to county directors of community services that a patient might be a danger to himself or others.
The professional must report “when in their reasonable professional judgment, one of the persons for whom they’re currently providing mental health treatment services is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others,” Allen said. “This standard has the same meaning as the term ‘likelihood’ to result in serious harm, which is defined in current law … to mean threats of, attempts at suicide or serious bodily harm to self, or homicidal violent behavior towards others.”
The counties then report those individuals to the state, which checks to see if the dangerous person is licensed to own a gun or has a registered assault weapon. Local officials must then decide whether to suspend or revoke the person’s licenses and may confiscate any firearms.
The report can also be used to determine whether a potentially dangerous person should be immediately transported to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.
No clinical information is provided to the Division of Criminal Justice; only the patient’s name, address and other identifying information is passed along. The report must be deleted after five years, Allen said.
There is an exception to the law, he said.
“A report is not required when in the mental health professional’s reasonable professional judgment, a report would endager him or herself or would increase the danger to the potential victim or victims,” Allen said.
He explained that reporters cannot be charged with any civil or criminal violations, as long as they’re acting in good faith.
The provisions can apply to children, Allen said.
“There is no specific age restriction or limitaion in the SAFE Act, an individual mental health professional should use their reasonable professional judgment, while understanding that the notification is for the purpose of limiting access to fireairms and that the duration of any individual report will last for five years,” Allen said.
Here’s an instructional powerpoint, also on the OMH SAFE Act website: