Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Empowerment

Magazine article Behavioral Healthcare Executive

Empowerment

Article excerpt

Mental Healthcare consumers have become a strong constituency, advocating for their rights and prompting changes in behavioral healthcare services. But this wasn't always the case. When mental healthcare was delivered mostly in institutions, patients with severe mental illnesses had virtually no hope for productive lives in the community. They were not empowered to make their own care decisions and were subject to questionable "treatments." Some people admitted to psychiatric hospitals were never allowed to leave, even in death. Tens of thousands died while patients at state hospitals and were buried on the grounds.

Today empowered mental healthcare consumers are remembering those that came before them by restoring these patient cemeteries, many of which have been abandoned, forgotten, and not properly maintained. Consumers also are playing an important role in building a national memorial to honor the patients buried at psychiatric hospitals across the nation, as Larry Pricks explains on page 12.

And who would have thought 50 years ago that mental healthcare consumers would become important players on the national scene. But that's now the case, with NAMI and Mental Health America serving as powerful lobbying groups on Capitol Hill. …

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