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A Brief History of Mental Health Care

Mental Health In Early Civilizations to Renaissance

Historical records indicate that many early civilizations viewed mental illness with disgust. Instead of caring for the mentally ill, those with mental illness were often cast away and shunned. In the early years, it was believed that the mentally ill were possessed, evil, and possibly even witches. Many were afraid of the mentally ill and as a result, mentally ill persons were often sent to live out their lives in institutions.

Mental Health In The 18th & 19th Centuries

During the 18th and 19th centuries, the mentally ill were usually sent to live in asylums. Asylums in this time period were staffed by untrained personnel who often had no professional experience in working with the mentally ill. Mentally ill that were living in these asylums were often referred to as inmates and many were kept after treatment to continue to work in the asylums. Standards of care for the mentally ill did not exist, as a result, the mentally ill were often neglected and mis-treated. Asylums became overcrowded and the mentally ill were often ill treated and restrained to make control of their behaviors easier and manageable.

The the treatment of the mentally ill in the 1800’s did not go un-noticed and many began to call for reform. Private citizen Dorothea Dix was one of the first advocates for the mentally ill asking for humane and safe treatment for those will mental illness. In the late 1800’s, schools of nursing were created to allow for trained personnel to care for the mentally ill. At this time, those committed to asylums were called patients instead of inmates and their care givers were called nurses.

In the middle 1800’s, the term psychiatry came about to define mental health care and treatment. Psychiatry was deemed a medical specialty with the help of The Journal of Mental Science. Mental Health In The 20th Century

The year 1907 brought about standards of care for nurses when working with the mentally ill. The year 1913 marked the beginning of the Johns Hopkins Hospital School training for psychiatric nurses.
Doctors were now in control of the care over mental health and mental health nurses instead of untrained personnel.

The 1930’s produced changes in the treatment and care of the mentally ill. New treatments being explored used insulin and electro-shock therapy as a treatments process for mental health.

1946 marked the passing of the National Mental health Act which established Mental Health treatment Institutions across the USA. Federal funds for mental health care, mental health research, and mental health education were becoming available across the nation.

The 1940’s & 1950’s brought about the development of tranquilizers for use in the mental health field. During this time Psychiatric journals were being published that included new information regarding mental health practices and care guidelines for the mentally ill.

The 1990’s marked an expanse in the use of pharmacological interventions in the use of treating mental illness.

Mental Health In The 21st Century

Today, insurance issues and the need to contain costs has been said to lead to under treatment and under diagnosis. On the other hand, many people who are mentally ill are able to lead near normal lives with treatment and medication. With more than 5.7 million Americans being diagnosed with diseases like bipolar disease alone, the future of mental health will continue to drastically change over the years. to come.

Source: Varcarolis, E (2005). Foundations of psychiatric mental health nursing. W.B. Saunders.

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If you feel that you have a health problem, you should seek the advice of your Physician or health care Practitioner.

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