Mental Health Essay

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The Current and Past Mental Health Policies of this Nation James Lapinel 6/12/13 Before the 1970’s, asylums for persons designated to be psychotic or otherwise severely mentally ill, called “institutions” were quite common. Most of such asylums were built to mimic Victorian mansions and contain hundreds of patients. It and many structures like it have come to be symbols of oppression, largely due to the literary work of Ken Kesey and the abuse scandals at the turn of the last century. I live near one of such former institutions. It was the Hudson River Hospital, and it represents my personal experience with the current mental health policies of this nation. Institutions throughout the country have been shut down for many reasons. It was suspected, and then confirmed that some facilities abused their patients. The containment of the psychotic was questionable. Most of the people that the institutions were holding hadn’t committed any crimes, and the asylums seemed like prisons to many. Deinstitutionalization is the process of removing institutions from the mental health care system. According to pbs.org, deinstitutionalization legally commenced in the U.S. in 1955, when chlorpromazine became widely available. Chlorpromazine was the most effective antipsychotic that had ever existed at the time. Its development caused legal actions based on the idea that psychosis could and should, be treated in the most non-restrictive environment possible. Deinstitutionalization reached its height in the 1970’s. This idea is flawed because anti-psychotics aren’t a guaranteed “cure” for all psychotic patients. Psychosis is often difficult to define and diagnose, and much harder to treat. Not ... ... middle of paper ... ...functional mental health care system. Those affected directly by grave physical afflictions often vow not to let their illness define them. Such is a brave sentiment, but why can’t the mentally ill say the same for themselves? Have they no choice? Are the psychotic persons of today’s world destined to suffer on the streets and prisons of this country? I have no credentials in any of the areas I’ve discussed, I don’t know what can be done for them, but it is clear to me that not enough is being done. Surely this world had a better quality of life to offer Mr. Sprankle, can we not provide it? Deinstitutionalization has worsened the condition of the psychotics in America, and nothing is being done to correct that. A return to the pre-1955 institutions would not only be nearly impossible, it would be hurtful. A new system must be conceived and implemented at all costs.

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