The Community Mental Health Act of 1963, a Significant Milestone in America's Record of Mental Health Rights

Topics: Psychiatry, Mental health, Illness Pages: 7 (1273 words) Published: August 26, 2014


The Community Mental Health Act of 1963
Post University

Community mental health center act of 1963 was a significant milestone in America’s record of mental health rights. On 31st October 1963, the act was signed into a regulation by President John F. Kennedy. The law was the pioneer among other many federal policy alterations that helped ignite a significant transformation of the communal mental health arrangement by shifting resources outside huge organization toward community-based mental health action line up. The act lead to the increased improvement in the rights and treatment options for youth, children and adults living with mental sickness, though full guarantee of community-base concern has not been fully captured. This paper seeks to explain the rationale of community mental health center act of 1963. President Kennedy referred to the law as a bold new approach and it was the first federal bylaw to promote community-based mental health care. The Act offered donations to state for the building of (CMHC) community mental health centers, special facilities designed for treatment, diagnosis and delivery of mental health prevention to persons living in the community. The centers were built to provide the following indispensable services: inpatient services, emergency services, education and consultation on mental health, outpatient services, partial hospitalization and emergency response. The donations were projected to provide 1500 more community mental health centers across the country (Dolan &Powell, 2001). The act was proposed because the country was experiencing an increased number of children and adults with mental illness. In mid-1950’s, over 500,000 adults and children were institutionalized for mental sickness. The public sentiment concerning the system of institutionalization started to transform. People questioned the usefulness of the institutional care. The public criticized that the care centers did not treat patients holistically while others said that the centers worsened the patient’s mental status. In addition, the increased awareness of the appalling conditions in several psychiatric hospitals made mandatory for these centers to implement better treatment options for these patients. The president proposed the community mental health act because of the intensified pressure from the general public demanding changes in the public mental health system (Hill, 1963). These institutions had few and under skilled staff to cater for the large number of patients. Thousands of patients were living in these institutions for long periods without care of treatment. For example, the standard period of stay for a patient suffering from schizophrenia was 11 years. The act was vital to the people with mental illnesses who were housed in these places for long periods of time before being able to move back into a community setting. The act drastically changed the delivery of mental health services and brought about a change in public opinion about the mental health concern. The development of effectual psychotropic medications and new practice in psychotherapy made society-based concern for individuals with mental illnesses a realistic solution. This gave people awareness that mental sicknesses could be treated more successfully and in a less expensive way rather than the customary psychiatric hospitals. The act led to development of wide-ranging community mental health centers all over the country. People came to acknowledge the need for more treatment alternatives for addiction disorders, as services delivered to the mental ill patients became assorted and widespread. The decree came to fruition by a key study of the care of patients with mental sickness during President Eisenhower’s reign, and led to a report in 1961. The 1961 report was referred as Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health: Action for Mental Health. President Kennedy signed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental...
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