The Changing Face of Mental Health Care


Mental health care has changed significantly in the past 40 years, and how we treat people with mental health issues has changed as well.

Mental health care has been ever-evolving in the United States and it is an issue that has once again entered the spotlight after the mass shootings that took place in recent months, such as the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., and the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.  However, it was not always the way it is now.

“During the 1970s I witnessed people being given insulin treatment and electroshock therapy,” said Marion Moody, a former corporate director of management of Blue Cross Blue Shield. “It was really horrible.”

When talking about mental health care now, she is amazed at how it has changed. One area of change is that of family therapy, which has made a big difference,  since  the family is sometimes the root cause of a person’s mental disorder.  Moody remembers meeting a woman who questioned why she was there saying “her family were the crazy ones, not her.”  Adds Moody, “The reason they were not there was they were able to cope while she was not.”

Moody said that one reason why mental health care has gotten better in recent years is that funding has increased.

Mental health care has also changed in that people are now more dependent on medicine and pills, says Dr. John Straetman, a psychologist.   According to Straetman, people’s lives have become more stressed, which causes them to seek therapy and medicine treatment.

Yet another reason why mental health care has improved is that people are choosing to make their own decisions in taking care of their mental health.

Paolo del Vecchio, the acting director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Center for Mental Health Services, wrote in an article on the government agency’s website, “For many years, serious mental illnesses were thought of as a never-ending life sentence of disability, with little or no hope of regaining a full and happy life…That extinguishing of hope was detrimental to people’s motivation to pursue health, happiness, and wellness.”

In other words, people have perhaps become serious in their own recovery.


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