THE REPORT: AN EXPLANATION OF ITS PURPOSE,
SOURCE, AND UNDERLYING PHILOSOPHY
THE PURPOSE of this final report of the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health is to arrive at a national program that would approach adequacy in meeting the individual needs of the mentally ill people of America—to develop a plan of action that would satisfy us that we are doing the best we can.
The latter is not presently the case. We who work in the mental health professions have not been able to do our best for the mentally ill to date, nor have we been able to make it wholly clear what keeps us from doing so.
Therefore, it will be necessary first to determine why progress in helping and healing mentally ill persons, progress of which we recently have seen definite signs, has been and still remains arduous, slow, and uneven.
The mental health professions have engaged in a long series of small efforts—some scientific and based on reasonably good evidence; some simply practical applications of wisdom derived from the experience of living; some coming from flashes of insight or good intuition about human motivation; and many simply acts of sheer will power—all directed toward the relief, recovery, and rehabilitation of the mentally ill. To date, however, it would appear that hope has constituted the most constant force in our efforts to move these people toward greater health—hope and a tender compassion for persons who are overwhelmingly in trouble through no conscious intent and yet are often treated as if the fault were all theirs—hope and a scientific conviction that within the disordered mind talented therapists can help its owner find the seed of good mental health, if