Institutionalization and Deinstitutionalization

As recently as the mid-20th century, the U.S. public mental health system consisted largely of the state hospitals. These hospitals, originally constructed for the humane asylum and “moral treatment” of those deemed mentally ill, had evolved into overcrowded, understaffed, and inadequate responses to the general welfare burden of society. Since that time, there have been many attempts to change the world of psychiatric treatment, including the use of medication and deinstitutionalization. Unfortunately, most of the efforts to change the treatment of persons with mental illness have not been successful. Although policymakers have promised changes in the current mental health system, meaningful changes are not going to happen until it is realized that community-based care is necessary and there is no “quick fix.” For deinstitutionalization to ...

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