NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH

The national voluntary citizens’ organization working to combat mental illness and advance mental health.The Association was formed in 1950 by a merger of three organizations. The oldest was the National Committee for Mental Hygiene, organized by Clifford Beers in 1909 as a citizens’ movement to fight conditions of brutality and neglect in mental institutions and to advocate treatment as opposed to custodial care. Though it never comprised more than a small body of dedicated people, the Committee nevertheless initiated the mental health clinic movement in America, started a nationwide program of public education on mental illness, effectively crusaded for reforms in mental hospitals, and collaborated with the American Psychiatric Association and other organizations in bringing the federal government into the area of mental health through the enactment of the National Mental Health Act in 1946 and the creation of the National Institute of Mental Health. The second organization was the National Mental Health Foundation, which advocated higher standards of care and treatment, publicized the need for a comprehensive prevention program, provided educational materials to interested groups, and recruited college students for summer volunteer work in mental hospitals. The third, the Psychiatric Foundation, was set up by the American Psychiatric Association and the American Neurological Society to inspect mental hospitals and raise funds for the study, relief, and cure of mental illness. Today the National Association for Mental Health includes more than eight hundred affiliates in forty-eight states, with an enrollment of over a million members and volunteers. Its programs are carried out by the affiliates with assistance, guidance, and materials from the national headquarters in New York.These activities fall into the following nine categories. First, research: the Research Foundation carries on a co-ordinated program on basic functions of human behavior with the goal of improving treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation procedures; it has also sponsored a special program of research on schizophrenia for the past thirty years. Second, mental hospitals: the Association works toward improvement of care and treatment through consultation with hospital officials, more liberal financing, information programs designed to elicit public interest and support; recruits, trains, and places hospital volunteers; and works for admission and discharge procedures which assure the patient his rights as a sick person. Third, rehabilitation: the Association develops programs of social, vocational, and medical rehabilitation for returned patients, including ex-patient clubs, foster home and convalescent home placement, regular or sheltered workshop employment, and follow-up medical care in the community.Fourth, childhood mental illness: the Association helps to set up day-care and residential treatment centers and to organize special educational programs for mentally disturbed children; works for separate and special treatment for children confined to state mental hospitals. Fifth, community services: helps to establish psychiatric services in general hospitals, and to set up mental health clinics for children and adults; establishes counseling, guidance, and consultation services for schools, businesses, and courts. Sixth, assistance to families: helps families of the mentally sick to find and use treatment services, to understand their illness, and to learn how they can speed their recovery and rehabilitation. Seventh, information services: sponsors services providing information on treatment, counseling, and guidance, for both individuals and referral agencies such as schools, courts, and business firms; conducts a joint information service with the American Psychiatric Association, providing scientific data on the entire mental health field.The entire program of the National Association for Mental Health, including its eight hundred affiliates, is supported by voluntary contributions from individuals, business firms, and foundations.

Cite this page: N., Pam M.S., "NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/national-association-for-mental-health/ (accessed May 26, 2019).
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