Mental Health America (formerly National Mental Health Association)
Mental Health America (formerly National Mental Health Association) is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to helping people with mental disorders. It is based in Alexandria, Virginia. The organization has more than 320 affiliate organizations that work together at a state or at a local level. The movement that the organization exemplifies is one that aims at better mental wellness and higher levels of mental health for everyone across the country.
The organization is now known as Mental Health America but they continue to be people who have experienced issues related to mental illness and health at some point in time. The people who work for the organization appreciate the challenges that the patients and the family members of the mentally ill people face. Therefore they advocate aggressively so that they can ensure that the rights of these people are safeguarded.
The organization also includes primary care doctors and nurses who have the expertise to help those impacted negatively due to mental issues. This coterie of medical experts also includes researchers and scientists who continue to explore treatment options for various kinds of mental conditions. In addition to the team also includes many businessmen who know that good mental health is extremely important and therefore contribute to the cause in more ways than one.
Schools, school officials and the youth are also involved in this mission to see the country as a far mentally healthier place. The people of the organization believe that good emotional health is critical to the fulfillment of life's desires and that there is a great connection between the mind and the body.
The National Mental Health Association is a partisan organization and does not have any religious or political views. They consider themselves to be public officials who are trying to change the system from within. They believe that the organization should be present in any place where there is a possible cause of mental stress irrespective of whether it is a natural disaster, a domestic abuse situation, a war, a traumatic experience or conflict.
Mental Health America believes that they are a leading advocating organization in the area of mental health. They address issues related to the entire spectrum of mental issues and cover substance abuse as well. The scope of work of the organization spans the entire nation. Some of the aspects that the organization looks into include ensuring proper education and awareness about mental illnesses among the masses. It also gets involved in ensuring that there are adequate levels of hygienic health facilities for patients and that these facilities are manned by people who have the expertise and training to manage such places.
With an experience of more than 100 years the organization has been able to take actions at the basic level in order to address mental and substance issues with compassion, love and expertise. The organization has more than 300 affiliates across 41 states. The stated mission of the organization is "Mental Health America is dedicated to preventing mental problems, promoting mental health and substance use conditions and achieving victory over mental illnesses and addictions through education, advocacy, service and research."
The managers of the organization dream of a society that is fair and human towards all people that suffer from mental illnesses. They envisage a time when all people shall be given the same respect and dignity irrespective of the mental illness status that they have. Therefore the people in the organization work towards creating wellness, mental recovery and victory over mental conditions with the use of proper care and counseling. The organization also helps in suggesting better methods for research, prevention techniques and better ways in which these issues can be diagnosed and detected early.
The guiding principles of the organization have created the belief system that the place follows. This includes beliefs that mental health is a basic issue of social justice and that there is no health without mental health.
National Mental Health Association was established in 1909 by a former psychiatric patient Clifford W. Beers. The founder experienced significant amount of abuse of mentally ill patients and this experience did not leave his mind after he had recovered completely from his condition. This was the time when individuals with mental illnesses were treated extremely badly by various other people of the society. These people were viewed as possessed by the demon or as animals and therefore the attitude continued through mental institutes and medical facilities as well.
The use of straight-jackets, leg and arm chains and such devices were commonly used in order to restrain mentally ill patients. Patients were not treated with dignity and when Beers suffered a breakdown due to his brother's illness and subsequent death, he was subjected to similar treatment at the hands of incompetent staff, untrained attendants and limited medical expertise.
The few years that Beers spent in these institutions made his mind even more determined about doing something about this condition. The first step towards this was the publication of "A Mind that Changed Itself", an autobiography that detailed the manner in which he struggled through his mental illness and the state of affairs at the mental care facilities. This was the foundation of what Beers had in mind with regards to his resolve. He followed up immediately by creating the Connecticut Society of Mental Hygiene that was expanded to the National Committee for Mental Hygiene.
Some significant reforms were brought about in the immediate future. In 1920, a set of model commitment laws were incorporated into statutes. There were also many studies that were initiated on mental health and specific mental illnesses that changed the entire landscape of the manner in which these illnesses were handled.
The first International Congress for Mental Health was conducted in 1930 and this was another significant achievement. Three notable organizations, namely the national Committee of Mental Hygiene, National Mental Health Foundation, and the Psychiatric Foundation came together to form the National Association of Mental Health (NAMH). This organization played a critical role in the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Another great achievement was The Mental Health Parity Act of 1996.
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