Lawmakers Attempt to Bring Back Mental Hospitals

metamorworks /
metamorworks /

If you haven’t noticed, mental illness has become a widespread and all-encompassing problem in the US. Thankfully, some lawmakers are making a push to reform mental illness facilities to house more needing individuals, some without their permission.

As you may know, the US used to accept mental hospitals that pretty much housed up to thousands of mentally ill at one time, mostly without their permission, and usually using rather primitive procedures that border on, if not bluntly included, abuse.

You know, think “One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest,” the 1962 novel made into a 1975 film starring Jack Nicholson that portrayed the 19th-century lack of compassion in treating the mentally ill.

Thankfully, in 1965, legislation prohibited using Medicaid for treating patients at such places. A 1963 advocacy by then-President John F. Kennedy only further ended the use of big mental hospitals.

Since then, mental illness in the US has been treated by much smaller community-based mental health centers.

To be sure, these facilities have done a lot of good.

But as the number of drug addicts and mentally ill in America increases, they are only making a small dent in what needs to be done.

And so, most Republican lawmakers, as well as a growing number of Democrats, have agreed that perhaps mental hospitals need to be brought back – with some obvious reform, of course.

The first step is to reverse the law that restricts mental facilities from having more than 16 beds. That was approved in the House on December 12, and it is assumed the Senate will pass it, too.

The fear, of course, is that this will allow some of those old habits to return as the mentally ill are housed in larger hospitals, not simply funded by smaller and personal communities.

But as Texas Representative Michael Burgess says, “It is no longer the 1960s, and there is no longer the same stigma against the treatment of mental health.” neither does the idea of “warehousing” the mentally ill need to return.

But clearly, something else needs to be done. Even those like Gavin Newsom and Eric Adams agree on that.