Mental Health Care

September 21, 1979

Report Outline
Pressures for Better Services
Changing Views of Mental Illness
Directions in Therapy and Research
Special Focus

Pressures for Better Services

Carter's Prescription for Federal Support

The mentally ill, it is said, have no constituency. Everyone seems to want them out of sight and out of mind. But when President Carter sent Congress his message on mental health care one key constituent was on hand to endorse his legislative proposals. Rosalynn Carter, who has had a long and abiding interest in mental health matters, was at her husband's side as he spoke with news reporters in the White House press room. She had served as honorary chairperson of the President's Commission on Mental Health whose report laid the groundword for the legislation he was that day (May 15) asking Congress to enact.

The commission report drew together many of the facts and enigmas surrounding the ill-defined but devastating cluster of disabilities grouped within the term mental illness. If the definitions are elusive, the problems are all too apparent. But the president's legislative prescription for mental health care has not evoked the optimism that infused the war on poverty, the missionary zeal aroused by civil rights, or the compassion inspired by the mentally retarded or physically handicapped.

There are a number of reasons why it is hard to mobilize public interest in the mentally ill. One is the nebulous nature of the population involved. The commission suggested that as many as 15 percent of the American people — some 32 million — may need mental health services at any one time. A figure of 10 percent had previously been used by federal health officials to project the need for services. It is not always clear how many of those persons are too severely ill to meet the everyday requirements of survival in society: to secure an education, hold a job, and relate in some satisfactory manner to others. To make any estimate requires arbitrary decisions about whom to include.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Mental Health
Jul. 01, 2022  Youth Mental Health
Jul. 31, 2020  COVID-19 and Mental Health
Oct. 11, 2019  The Insanity Defense
Jul. 12, 2019  Suicide Crisis
Mar. 13, 2015  Prisoners and Mental Illness
Dec. 05, 2014  Treating Schizophrenia
Sep. 12, 2014  Teen Suicide
May 10, 2013  Mental Health Policy
Aug. 03, 2012  Treating ADHD
Jun. 01, 2012  Traumatic Brain Injury
Jun. 26, 2009  Treating Depression
Feb. 13, 2004  Youth Suicide
Feb. 06, 2004  Mental Illness Medication Debate
Mar. 29, 2002  Mental Health Insurance
Feb. 08, 2002  Treating Anxiety
Jul. 16, 1999  Childhood Depression
Jun. 18, 1999  Boys' Emotional Needs
Sep. 12, 1997  Mental Health Policy
Aug. 19, 1994  Prozac
Aug. 06, 1993  Mental Illness
Oct. 09, 1992  Depression
Jun. 14, 1991  Teenage Suicide
Jul. 08, 1988  Biology Invades Psychology
Feb. 13, 1987  The Mentally Ill
Aug. 20, 1982  Mental Health Care Reappraisal
Jun. 12, 1981  Youth Suicide
Sep. 21, 1979  Mental Health Care
Sep. 15, 1978  Brain Research
Jul. 05, 1974  Psychomedicine
Aug. 08, 1973  Emotionally Disturbed Children
Dec. 27, 1972  Mental Depression
Mar. 24, 1972  Schizophrenia: Medical Enigma
Apr. 21, 1971  Approaches to Death
Mar. 03, 1971  Encounter Groups
Nov. 25, 1970  Psychological Counseling of Students
Feb. 19, 1969  Future of Psychiatry
Feb. 02, 1966  New Approaches to Mental Illness
Jan. 22, 1964  Insanity as a Defense
Sep. 25, 1963  Anatomy of Suicide
Nov. 20, 1957  Drugs and Mental Health
Apr. 23, 1954  Mental Health Programs
Jul. 09, 1948  Mental Health
Mental Health