Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill

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Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill

Deinstitutionalization refers to releasing a mentally or physically handicapped person from an institution whose main purpose was to provide treatment into a community with the intent of providing services through the community under the supervision of health-care professionals. There have been many positive outcomes from deinstitutionalization for both the patients and society but there have also been many drawbacks of deinstitutionalization. Deinstitutionalization is a process which affects the community as a whole and there are many procedures that must be followed in order to see this process follow through successfully (Watnik, 2001).

The deinstitutionalization process began in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s. Facilities were financially liable for patients while they were committed, but were able to modify the burden to the federal government by discharging them. A lot of our society believes that the deinstitutionalization process was simply created because of the facilities’ inadequacy of treatment to their patients. Motivated by a concern for the civil rights of patients, deinstitutionalization focused on more rigorous standards for civil commitment and created practical safeguard processes, such as the right to treatment in the least preventive atmosphere (Watnik, 2001).

New York dealt with deinstitutionalization in the wrong ways from the beginning. For instance, New York was the only state prior to 1994 that had limitations specifically prohibiting outpatient commitment. In 1994, the legislation passed the Bellevue Pilot Program which was established to helping the deinstitutionalization process. In 1999, New York Governor George Pataki, created Kendra’s Law which was a law that was influenced by the increase rise of mentally unstable individuals hurting and killing other people randomly. Kendra’s Law allows particular individuals (such as family members) to petition the court to obtain an...
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