chapter  12
24 Pages

The Mental Hospital Patient

Since the mid-1950s there has been a dramatic change in the care of mental patients due to the widespread use of psychotropic drugs. Before this, persons with serious mental disorders were committed to institutions, where they stayed until their doctors agreed they could rejoin society. As Judith Cook and Eric Wright (1995:96) explained years ago, “Major breakthroughs in psychotropic medication for schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar mood disorders, as well as changes in financial reimbursement for care, have allowed many persons to remain outside hospitals and pursue life goals such as career and advanced education.” Drugs that helped patients control their symptoms combined with the deinstitutionalization movement’s goals to transfer

most mental patients out of institutions and place them for treatment in the community. Despite numerous problems, the inmate population of mental hospitals was significantly reduced and the majority of mentally disordered people today are treated on an outpatient basis. “Large numbers of persons with mental illness,” state Cook and Wright (1995:97), “who formerly lived in statefunded psychiatric institutions now reside in the community for most of their lifetimes, interspersed with short hospital stays.”