Mental Health in America: A Reference Handbook

Mental Health in America: A Reference Handbook

Mental Health in America: A Reference Handbook

Mental Health in America: A Reference Handbook

Excerpt

Mental health has been and still is a problematic policy area. People with mental illness have faced many problems from society throughout the ages. In the past, people with mental illness were often believed to be possessed by demons or the devil and were left in the care of their families or left to wander. They were sometimes mistreated. Eventually, society chose to hospitalize people with mental illness, but their status was reflected in Pennsylvania, where the first mental hospital was placed in the basement of the general hospital. Mental health has continued to be the poor stepchild of the wider health care arena.

The deinstitutionalization movement resulted in the downsizing and closing of many psychiatric hospitals, but treatment in the community has failed to meet the needs of many people with mental illness. In recent years an effort has been made to address the stigmatization of people with mental illness and to provide services to the homeless mentally ill, but a large number of people with mental illness have fallen into the criminal justice system. There remains a need to provide more and better services to people with mental illness in the community.

The 1990s saw the proclaiming of the Decade of the Brain, and much research has been focused on the brain. Many mental disorders are now seen to have a component involving brain chemistry and function. There are those who believe that eventually all mental disorders will be seen as disorders of the brain and will be treated somatically. This could remove much of the stigma related to mental illness.

Worldwide there are differences in how mental illness is viewed and treated. In the countries of the former USSR for . . .

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