Mental Health Decriminalization

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The 1970’s was a decade full of social, economic, and political changes for the American people. During this era, the country was plagued with high inflation rates, but social spending, at that point in time, was at an all-time high. After the passage of Medicare and the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, deinstitutionalization became a major factor in the development in mental health care policy. It caused the states to shut down their mental hospitals and introduce a more-community based form of treatment.
With the Vietnam War ending in 1975, America was able to utilize the funds that were once designated to military use and apply them to programs meant to empower the citizens. Eventually, funding for social programs and resources
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According to Jansson, the MHSA “did not provide centers with sufficient funds to implement the new services that it mandated” (2015, p. 322). Without the proper financial backing, the services were not successful and left the population suffering. As this policy was somewhat of an effort to continue the deinstitutionalization of mental health services, it was unable to fully assist the mentally ill that were discharged or diagnosed after the policy was passed. Laurence French states that “while the number of institutionalized mentally ill and mentally retarded people has decreased markedly in the 1970s and 1980s, jails and prisons have become overcrowded” (1987, p. 503). He further goes on to imply that the jails have become like mental health institutions, as they began to house the mentally-ill that were homeless (French, …show more content…
However, mental illness, without proper treatment, can cloud judgment and negatively affect one’s social functioning. The maladaptive behaviors that could possibly develop are often affected by their illness. This often led to joblessness and homelessness. American society, even with the MHSA being enacted, still had low tolerance for those with mental illness, as they lacked the knowledge of the biopsychosocial implications associated with it. Lacking support from the society at large certainly made the transition back into community living hard. It wasn’t that deinstitutionalization itself was the cause of these unintended consequences, but it was partially because the MHSA was not able to link this population to the next level of services needed to go out into the communities and be

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