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The Changing Practice of Hospitalization for the Mentally Ill Essay

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Updated: Mar 27th, 2019

Introduction

There have been revolutionary changes in mental illness hospitalization over the years. Initially, the mentally ill patients were hospitalized for long periods and were protected from inflicting harm on themselves or others, but little treatment was offered. However, today there is the use of rehabilitative medication in order to try and make the patients to go back to independent living.

There has also been the introduction of the concept of deinstitutionalization, which has ensured that mental patients can get help from community-based institutions in order to adjust to normal life. This paper explores the changes that mental hospitalization has undergone throughout history.

Admission into Mental Institutions

Admission to a mental hospital can be through three ways, i.e. voluntary, emergency, or involuntary admission. In voluntary admission, patients visit psychiatric institutions and request for hospitalization. Patients who are mentally ill and are willing to undergo treatment are also considered voluntary patients. These patients have some rights such as the right to refuse treatment if they are not endangering others or themselves and the right to request for discharge (Tasman and Mohr, 2011).

Emergency admission patients are the one hospitalized following mental illness symptoms and behaviors that can inflict harm to other people and to them. After the evaluation and treatment of the patients, they can either be discharged or have their status changed to voluntary patients. While under the emergency admission status, the patients’ movement into and out of the institution is restricted but they are allowed to consult with their legal representatives (Tasman and Mohr, 2011).

Involuntary hospitalization is administered to mentally ill persons whose condition endanger themselves and others, but refuse to be hospitalized or treated. Therefore, this group of mentally ill persons is held in a mental hospital against their will. They are examined and if they are found to be mentally ill and likely to cause harm to themselves or others, they are admitted under involuntary status (Curtis, 2001).

The care provided to mentally ill persons is impacted by the legal system. Mental health professionals are required to understand the laws that regulate this practice in order to be able to take care of the patients, while at the same time protecting their safety and rights. The purpose, practice, and structure of mental health care have evolved over the years. A common trend is deinstitutionalization, which involves having fewer patients residing in mental hospitals and delivering less mental illness treatments in public hospitals.

This practice involves the release of patients from mental hospitals, reduction in the admission of patients, and reducing the length of time that a patient is held at the mental hospital. It also involves the reorganization of the performances of mental hospitals in order to eradicate or lessen maladaptive behaviors such as hopelessness (Barry and Farmer, 2002).

In the nineteenth century, mental hospitals increased in size and number. In the beginning of the twentieth century, there was an increase in the number of patient admissions and consequently the mental hospitals became overcrowded. During times of war or economic deterioration, the funding to these institutions was stopped. This led to poor living conditions including. The idea of deinstitutionalization was conceived in the 1920s and 1930s as an alternative to mental hospitalization.

The community services provided housing, supervision, and cheaper costs. The community services were also expected to contribute to better integration of the patients with the society. In the 1960s, there was a great increase in deinstitutionalization and the period of time that patients were supposed to stay in mental hospitals was reduced by more than half. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy influenced the passing of the Community Mental Health Centers Act, which provided funding to community health facilities that served the mentally ill members of the society. This Act led to increased deinstitutionalization. The federal government funded mental health care (Dowdall, 1996).

Deinstitutionalization

Deinstitutionalization provides mentally ill patients with a more liberal and humane treatment in community-based facilities. It helps mental patients to adjust to the life outside the mental institution. This is achieved by removing the patients from the institutions where their social behavior may be adapted to the conditions in that institutional environment.

The patients are able to make their own choices and therefore they become empowered and free. The individuals are free from institutional expectations and rules and therefore, they adjust more easily to the day-to-day life (Barry and Farmer, 2002).

Conclusion

From the above discussion, it is clear that the practice of hospitalizing the mentally ill individuals in the society has undergone remarkable changes. Mental patients no longer have to spend many years in mental hospitals but can attend community-based facilities where they are helped to integrate with the society. Deinstitutionalization has worked well for most mental patients but has had some negative impacts.

Some patients have been unable to attain better social integration and have remained jobless and without social contacts. Other patients were discharged before they were well-prepared and ended up going to jail or becoming homeless. Moreover, the established community services were not able to meet the intricate needs of the mental patients.

Reference List

Barry, P.D., and Farmer, S. (2002). Mental Health and Mental Illness. USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Curtis, A. (2001). Involuntary Commitment. Retrieved from

Dowdall, G.W. (1996). The Eclipse of the State Mental Hospital: Policy, Stigma, and Organization. USA: SUNY Press.

Tasman, A., and Mohr, W. K. (2011). Fundamentals of Psychiatry. USA: John Wiley & Sons.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'The Changing Practice of Hospitalization for the Mentally Ill'. 27 March.

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