Mental Health Programs

April 23, 1954

Report Outline
Governors' Offensive Against Mental Ills
Scope of Nation's Mental Health Problem
Obstacles to Cure of Mental Disease
Activities to Improve Mental Health

Governors' Offensive Against Mental Ills

Promise of more adequate and effective handling of one of today's most perplexing social problems was given early this year when a special state governors' conference was held at Detroit to launch what Gov. Williams of Michigan called “the most determined attack ever made against ailments of the human mind.” Calling of the conference reflected widespread concern over the growing prevalence of mental illness. It reflected also a realization that the financial burdens imposed on limited state health budgets by mental illness will keep on mounting unless more vigorous preventive and curative measures are instituted.

The great majority of seriously deranged persons must be cared for in public institutions. Cost to taxpayers for care and treatment of mental patients already runs to almost $3 million a day, and the number of individuals whose disorders are serious enough to call for hospitalization rises alarmingly each year.

Recent discoveries in psychiatric medicine, although not unearthing the basic causes and processes of most mental diseases, at least point to certain techniques which, if applied promptly, may produce cures or partial cures. State governments, which have borne the brunt of rising mental illness costs, are hastening to provide new services to patients in the hope of ultimately reducing the case load of tax-supported institutions. In addition, the states are promoting development of community facilities designed to prevent early maladjustments from developing into deep-seated distortions.

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