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Marsha Linehan was quoted in this New York Times article about homeless people with mental illnesses rejecting assistance.

Excerpted from NYT

Nakesha Williams Died Homeless on a Manhattan Street. Should She Have Been Forced Into Treatment?


On Sunday, The Times published a heartbreaking story about a standout student at Williams College who later developed mental problems and ended up homeless , a fixture on a grate at 46th Street and Park Avenue in Manhattan.

The woman, Nakesha Williams, died in 2016 at age 46 after turning down many offers of help over the years and despite extraordinary efforts made by outreach workers and friends.

Many readers wondered: What can be done for someone like Ms. Williams, who is plainly mentally disabled but rejects help?

What if she just did not understand she was mentally disabled?

If you look at her from a “strengths” rather than “deficits” perspective, she was extremely resourceful. She knew exactly where it was safe to stay; she was lucid in interviews; she knew her dilemma regarding shelter — that she felt safer away from people than in a crowded place.

She said no to treatment, no to the shelter, no to a room at the Y, or the Phoenix House. These were reasonable decisions from her point of view, because she saw herself as the star student and not as mentally ill or a substance abuser.

The minute anyone said, “You need treatment,” they got onto the list of people she’d never engage with again. She didn’t want treatment.

What are the options when someone refuses help? What are some common reasons they refuse?

There’s a quote from Marsha Linehan, the famous therapist: to engage with someone like Ms. Williams requires a “radical acceptance of her point of view.”

Read the entire article here .