Mental healthcare has evolved quite differently than medical care to become the caring and effective profession it is today. The history of mental health care in the United States serves as a good representation of the various ways in which trends in psychiatric care and cultural understanding of mental health have influenced national policy and mental health treatment standards. The mental health care system in the United States is relatively progressive and is likely to lead the way in the future evolution of mental health care.
Early History of Mental Illness and Mental Health Care
In the past, many cultures viewed mental illness as religious punishment or possession. Many ancient civilizations, including Egyptian, Roman, Greek, and Indian cultures, categorized mental illness as a personal issue with religious assertions.
Hippocrates pioneered mental health care in the 5th century B.C., as he began to treat mental illness by chancing the individual’s environment or occupation, or by administering certain substances as medication. Throughout the centuries, civilizations would vacillate between treating mental illness as a religious issue and as a medical problem. Negative attitudes towards mental illness persisted well into the 18th century in the United States, which led to stigmatization. Many mentally ill individuals were confined to unhygienic housing and living conditions that were often degrading.
Mental Health Hospitals and Deinstitutionalization
Dorothea Dix revolutionized mental health care in the 1840s by lobbying for better living conditions for the mentally ill. In just 40 years, Dix persuaded the U.S. government to fund the construction of 32 state psychiatric hospitals. Rather than forcing patients to fend for themselves in a harsh and non-accepting world, this institutional inpatient care model had patients living in hospitals where they could receive treatment from a professional staff. Institutionalization also gave caregivers a break.
Dix supported the new approach to mental health care known as “moral treatment,” developed from the work of French psychiatrist Philippe Pinel and from innovative practices used at hospitals such as England’s York Retreat. Moral treatment called for kindness and patience, along with recreation, walks, and pleasant conversation. While this approach seems intuitive today, the thought of treating mentally ill people with dignity and respect was revolutionary at the time.
By the mid-1950s, many countries began pushing for deinstitutionalization and outpatient treatment programs. Mental health care professionals believed that patients would enjoy a higher quality of life participating in community treatment, rather than being confined to an institution and hidden away.
The Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963 created strict standards requiring only individuals who posed an imminent danger to themselves or someone else, could be committed to a psychiatric hospitals involuntarily. Patients moved from institutions to community-based mental health care.
There is no doubt, that the development of psychiatric medication and therapeutic counseling methods facilitated the move away from asylum-based mental health care. Today’s mental health care is the result of the long evolution of the treatment of mental illnesses throughout the history of humankind.
Pasadena Villa Psychiatric Residential Treatment Centers creates a comforting and therapeutic environment for those suffering from mental illness. We believe in treating all residents with compassion, and our programs are designed in ways that preserve and protect their dignity. We do common activities that many families do. Our staff and residents learn and model appropriate social and communication skills, from daily mealtimes, to many fun and relaxing social and recreational activities.
Our mental health professionals work directly with residents. They observe them in actual social situations and incorporate these observations directly into the resident’s ongoing treatment plan. This individual, real life personalized attention makes the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more appropriate and beneficial for each of our residents, especially when compared to any other available adult residential treatment mental health services.
The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. Pasadena Villa’s Outpatient Center in Raleigh, North Carolina offers partial hospitalization (PHP) and an intensive outpatient program (PHP). If you or someone you know may need mental health services, please complete our contact form or call us at 877-845-5235 for more information.