Mental Health Services within the Criminal Justice System
SOC331: Social Justice and Ethics
April 9, 2012
If anyone were to take a look at The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders, 4th edition, (DSM IV), they would discover that nearly every human being could relate to “symptoms” required for some form of mental disorder. The need for effective mental health services in this country is essential, not only for general society, but also within the criminal justice system. These days it seems that more and more people are being diagnosed with some form of mental disorder or disability. It’s important that those who provide mental health services be properly trained and certified so as to provide the best possible care and treatment for those who suffer from mental health disorders and disabilities.
The history of mental health services is quite extensive. In 1773 the first hospital for the mentally ill in the US opened in Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1840 there were only eight “asylums for the insane” in the United States. Dorothea Dix crusaded for the establishment or enlargement of 32 mental hospitals, and transfer of those with mental illness from almshouses and jails. The first attempt to measure the extent of mental illness and mental retardation in the United States occurred with the U.S. Census of 1840, which included the category “insane and idiotic.” The “mental hygiene” movement began in 1900. Clifford Beers, a mental health consumer shocked readers with a graphic account of hospital conditions in his famous book, The Mind That Found Itself. Inspection of immigrants at Ellis Island included screening to detect the “mentally disturbed and retarded”. The high incidence of mental disorders among immigrants prompted public recognition of mental illness as a national health problem. In 1930, The US Public Health Service (PHS) established the Narcotics Division, later named the Division of Mental Hygiene, bringing together research and treatment programs to combat drug addiction and study of the causes, prevalence, and means of preventing and treating nervous and mental disease. During World War II, severe shortages of professional mental health personnel and the understanding of the causes, treatment, and prevention of mental illness lagged behind other fields of medical science and public health. Dr. William Menninger, chief of Army neuropsychiatry, called for federal action. A national mental health program was proposed, forming the foundation of the National Mental Health Act of 1946. On July 3, 1946, President Truman signed the National Mental Health Act, creating for the first time in US history a significant amount of funding for psychiatric education and research and leading to the creation in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Congress authorized the Mental Health Study Act of 1955 and called for “an objective, thorough, nationwide analysis and reevaluation of the humane and economic problems of mental health”. The act provided the basis for the historic study conducted by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health, Action for Mental Health. In 1961 the Action for Mental Health was transmitted to Congress. It assessed mental health conditions and resources throughout the United States “to arrive at a national program that would approach adequacy in meeting the individual needs of the mentally ill people of America.” Congress appropriated $12 million for research in 1956 the clinical and basic aspects of psychopharmacology and the Psychopharmacology Service Center was established. The number of consumers in mental hospitals began to decline reflecting the introduction of psychopharmacology in the treatment of mental illness. The Health Amendments Act authorized the support of community services for the mentally ill, such as halfway houses, daycare, and aftercare under Title V. The CMHC (Community Mental Health Center) Act Amendments...
References: * (2012). Detailed History of Mental Health. http://www.mnpsychsoc.org/history%20appendix.pdf.
* (2012). Financing and Managing Mental Health Care. Mental Health: A report of the Surgeon General. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/chapter6/sec3.html.
* Dolgoff, R. & Feldstein, D. (2009). Understanding social welfare: A search for social justice (8th Ed.), Pearson Education, Inc., Boston, MA.
* Edmonson, B. (2012). Crazy Enough to Care. The American Scholar. Washington. http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=2623039031&Fmt=3&clientId=74379&RQT=309&VName=PQD
* Fleener, P. (2012). Mental Health Today Mission Statement. http://www.mental-health-today.com/mission.htm.
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