Administration of Public Welfare

By R. Clyde White | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
CARE OF MENTAL PATIENTS

Mental patients may be considered as including the insane, the epileptic, and persons with mild personality difficulties, but the student of public welfare is concerned mainly with the first two groups. The insane and the epileptic require hospitalization or intensive treatment at clinics. Before a patient enters a hospital for the insane or an institution for epilepsy, there are likely to be signs that he is in danger of injuring himself or someone else. In the early stages of the development of psychotic or epileptic behavior the afflicted person is considered "queer" or perhaps inconsiderate of others. Increasingly such persons are taken to a private psychiatrist or to a psychiatric clinic for examination and possibly treatment, but the public is rarely concerned with such cases until the peculiarities of personality are such as to unfit the person for holding a job and therefore result in his having to seek relief. In this event he is given relief but not often is he given treatment for the cause of his destitution. His maladjustment may never develop to the state at which it would be regarded legally as insanity or committable epilepsy. The public welfare worker may be interested in providing the facilities for treating mild personality difficulties1 and for diagnosing mental disorders at an early stage, but because of our existing organization for the care of mental patients he must be primarily interested in the institutions and agencies established for the care of those who are legally committable or who have sought voluntary admission to these institutions. Hence, in this chapter attention is directed toward the nature and magnitude of the problem of the care of the insane and epileptic and toward the organization and administration of institutions and agencies for the care of mental patients.

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1
When case workers encounter persons with mild neurotic or psychotic symptoms they can usually do little to help until relatives recognize the need for treatment.

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