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Mental Illness

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Mental illness has been around for centuries. These days we understand more about mental illness than ever before. Centuries ago mental illness was also referred to as "madness" and was commonly believed to have been caused by a demonic possession. History shows that skulls dating back to 5000 BCE were found with small holes drilled throughout, hoping to allow the demons to escape (Martin. 2007). Demonic possession and witchcraft were considered to have been the cause of insanity and lunacy throughout the Middle Ages and well into the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. A common cure for such ailments in the Middle Ages involved tying the accused person up with a rope and lowering them into freezing cold water. It was believed that if they floated then they were a witch and they were killed. If the person sunk then they were believed to not be a witch, but the cold water was believed to be a cure for the madness (Porter, 2002). Such torture was soon to end since this was not an accurate way to tell whether a person dealt with witchcraft.

Eighteenth century mental health reform had begun and was led in part by Philippe Pinel of France who was appointed as chief physician at a hospital for the incurable mentally insane. He was appalled by the conditions of the patients in the hospital by finding them chained to walls. Some were chained for as much as 40 years. The mentally ill were also put on display. People in the community would pay a fee to see the ill patients as if they were a side show attraction. In 1792 Pinel made the decision to release five thousand patients out of the hospital. This was the beginning of what was going to be referred to as the era of "Moral Treatment" of the mentally ill. Pinel pushed for reform and compassionate care. Another member to have impacted the way in which the mentally ill were treated was Dorothy Dix (Martin. 2007).

Dorothy Dix was a United State social activist and was a leader in bringing compassionate care to the insane asylums. She pleaded with Massachusetts state legislature in 1843 describing the horrific scene that the mentally ill had to endure. This resulted in an improvement in the conditions of both hospitals and Asylums (Torrey & Miller, 2001). By the beginning of the twentieth century most of the insane asylums were closed and state mental institutions were the primary facilities housing of the mentally ill. This contributed to the National Committee for Mental Hygiene or also known as National Mental Health Association which was developed with such goals in mind as to include improving treatment of the mentally ill, by developing better prevention methods and reducing the stigma and negative attitudes towards mental illness (Martin. 2007).

This led to government officials signing bills regarding the mentally ill. In 1946 then President Harry Truman signed the National Mental Health Act, it allowed for the creation of a bill to support the mentally ill. This later led to the creation of Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1963. This was passed by the Kennedy Administration. It enabled funding for a new national mental healthcare system focusing on prevention and community-based care, rather than institutionalized custodial care (Feldman, 2003). Community Mental Health Act was the foundation ground work and started the development of psychotropic medications there it was the first thought that there was a connection between brain and behavior this gave people hope (Mowbray & Holter, 2002).

Paranoia, Depression and Anxiety are all forms of mental illnesses. Oftentimes, the mentally ill person experiences social problems such as stigma, discrimination, ostracism, and low self-esteem. There is a huge misconception that people with mental illness are considered to be violent which contributes to the stigma

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