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Is Deinstitutionalization still Relevant Today?

Deinstitutionalization was a government policy that motivated mental health patients to get out of the state-run institutions and go into federally funded community mental health centers.This policy started in the 1960s to improve the treatment of mentally challenged prisoners while also cutting government budgets simultaneously.

It is observed that many people are currently facing a mental-health crisis in America. As a result, regulating and imprisonment have efficiently replaced the mental-health care emergency services, especially in low-income communities.The ratio of mentally challenged jail inmates has consistently increased, while the overall prisoner population has declined over the years.

Today, nearly half of the people in jails of the United States and even more than one-third of those in the United States prisons have been diagnosed with a mental illness compared to about one-fifth in the general population. As more and more patients were moved into these institutions, the amenities quickly grew too big for their capacity, and the staff struggled just to keep up with the needs of these patients.

When a municipal mental asylum or hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, opened up in 1833, for instance, it had 120 beds. Just 13 years after this, it had almost 400 beds.The problem grew even worse during the time of World War II, when many doctors and other staff members were recruited, leaving the hospitals dangerously short-staffed. The resulting conditions of this institution looked bizarrely similar to those when seen in jails and prisons today.

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