Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Mental Health Legal Partnership

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

April 11, 2012


Long Island







People hospitalized because of mental illness are in crisis, and the things that bring some stability to their lives—a home, income, or government benefits—can unravel during their hospitalization.

During the course of a downward spiral in mental health, an individual may have lost the judgment to pay rent and failed to respond to a host of legal notices. Problems with insurance frequently arise during the hospitalization, leaving the patient in debt or forcing the hospital to absorb the costs. These legal problems also create obstacles to proper discharge planning and can lengthen hospital stays. This grant enabled MFY Legal Services to implement a sustainable medical-legal partnership (MLP) with North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System’s 223-bed psychiatric facility in Queens so that health care providers and attorneys may work together on site to identify and resolve the legal issues that affect vulnerable patients’ health and wellbeing.

With support from NYHealth, this MLP implementation resulted in improved outcomes for patients by helping patients obtain or reinstate coverage and challenge denials involving billing and claims. It also resulted in reduced costs for the hospital by preventing delays in discharge, since the hospital will financially support the MLP. MFY conducted a series of trainings for medical and social work staff to enable them to identify legal issues that may make discharge difficult and may negatively impact patients’ mental health recovery. In addition to providing assistance on a wide range of medical-legal issues on a regular basis, MFY also provided legal representation when advocacy was not sufficient to resolve a problem.