The Association describes itself as “A society of medical specialists brought together by a common interest in the continuing study of psychiatry, in working together for more effective application of psychiatric knowledge to combat the mental illnesses, and in promoting mental health of all citizens.” Its constitution enumerates the following specific objectives: “To further the study of the nature, treatment, and prevention of mental disorders and to promote mental health; to promote the care of the mentally ill; to further the interests, the maintenance, and the advancement of standards of all hospitals for mental disorders, of outpatient services, and of all other agencies concerned with the medical, social, and legal aspects of these disorders; to make available psychiatric knowledge to other branches of medicine, to other sciences, and to the public.” See psychiatrist. The American Psychiatric Association is the oldest national medical society in the United States. Founded in Philadelphia in 1844 by 13 hospital administrators, it was originally known as the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane. The major accomplishment of these early leaders was to bring about the transfer of the mentally ill from jails and almshouses to medical institutions that provided “moral treatment.” In 1892 the name was changed to American Medical-Psychological Association, and in 1921, after a period of rapid growth in which the membership doubled every decade, the present name was adopted. In 1965 the number of members in all classes—primarily fellows, members, and associate members —totaled about 15,000, and included about 80 per cent of all psychiatrists and psychiatric residents in the United States, 12 per cent of whom were women. See mental hospital.The Association’s members assemble during the annual meeting each May, and between these meetings the executive director, an elected Governing Council and the Executive Committee carry on its activities. There are district branches in nearly every state, which represent the profession and process most of the applications. The programs and policies of the Association originate in fifty committees, boards, commissions, and task forces dealing with such subjects as childhood, adolescence, ag AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION ing, medical education, mental retardation, rehabilitation, research, therapy, hospitals, nomenclature, medical practice, nursing, law, federal health programs, disaster and civil defense, leisure time and its uses, occupational psychiatry, public information, religion, prevention, manpower, drug safety, and ethics. The central office of the Association is in Washington, D.C. Its periodicals include: The American Journal of Psychiatry, its official journal; Psychiatric News, its official newspaper; Hospital and Community Psychiatry, a staff magazine for non-medical service personnel; and Psychiatric Research Reports.The Association serves as the profession’s major channel for the exchange of scientific information through meetings, publications, institutes, and conferences. It has contributed directly and indirectly to the improvement of services for mental patients through the advancement of general hospital psychiatry, practitioner education, and the evolution of the new comprehensive community services. In its own terms, it has “always struggled, and with quickened success in recent years, to remove stigma and discrimination from the mentally ill, to safeguard their civil rights, to facilitate easy access to treatment, and to discourage judicial commitment in favor of voluntary procedures.”Other examples of public service cited by the Association are: the establishment of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in 1939; establishment of the first standards for psychiatric hospitals and clinics in 1945; a program of public information on psychiatric and mental disorder; practical assistance to states in formulating long-range programs; initiative in organizing the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health in 1955, and the Joint Commission on Mental Health of Children in 1965; contributions to the development of psychiatric units in general hospitals; elimination of discrimination against the mentally ill in the Social Security program, and promotion of equal coverage for the mentally ill in all voluntary prepaid health insurance programs; promotion of the community mental health center program; and collaboration with other professional organizations including the American Medical Association, the National Association for Mental Health, the American Hospital Association, the National Association for Retarded Children, the American Psychological Association, the National Association for Social Workers, and the American Bar Association.

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION," in, November 28, 2018, (accessed October 5, 2022).


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