U.S. Mental Illness Policy/Efforts Timeline

  • Dorothea Dix

    In Boston, Dorothea Dix devoted years to researching and interviewing patients and experts in an effort to gain a clearer understanding of mental health in our nation. She wrote to the General Assembly of North Carolina, exposing the horrendous conditions these patients endured (Foundations Recovery Network).
  • Nelly Bly

    In the 1880s, writer Nelly Bly pretended to be a mentally ill woman for a newspaper assignment in order to gain a clear understanding of the poor treatment of the mentally ill, and her documentation was later turned into a successful book (Foundations Recovery Network).
  • Clifford Beers

    Beers founds the Connecticut Society for Mental Hygiene, which eventually became Mental Health America in the 2000s. This organization would aim to aid in child prevention of mental illness and treatment options (mhanational.org)
  • Surgeon General Efforts

    Due to efforts of the Surgeon General, Mental Health America created a mental ‘hygiene’ program, which was utilized by the Army and the Navy, in preparation for the First World War (mhanational.org).
  • Model Commitment Laws

    Mental Health America created a collection of model commitment laws, which were then introduced into the statutes of several states (mhanational.org).
  • First International Congress on Mental Hygiene

    Mental Health America gathered at the First International Congress on Mental Hygiene in Washington D.C., uniting more than 3,000 individuals from 41 countries (mhanational.org).
  • National Mental Health Act

    The “National Mental Health Act,” which introduced the National Institute of Mental Health, passed because of Mental Health America’s advocacy and efforts (mhanational.org).
  • Mental Health Day--->Mental Health Month!

    Mental Health America initiated Mental Health Week (which later became Mental Health Month) with the Jaycees to inform and educate Americans about the state of mental health/illness in our nation (mhanational.org).
  • Symbolization

    To represent the great change that took place in the stigma behind mental illness, Mental Health America commissioned the casting of the Mental Health Bell from chains and shackles that held people down with mental illnesses in decades past (mhanational.org)
  • Commission on Mental Illness and Mental Health

    Mental Health America joined forces with and advocated for the Commission on Mental Illness and Mental Health, which was created and funded by Congress (mhanational.org).
  • CMHC

    The “Community Mental Health Centers Act” (CMHC) was passed by Congress, which authorized construction grants for community mental health centers. Mental Health America exerted much effort in having this legislation enacted and signed by President Kennedy (mhanational.org). This act also pushed for deinstitutionalization and more community services as well.
  • Medicare Inclusion

    Mental Health America victoriously pushed for inclusion of mandated mental heath services in Medicare (mhanational.org)
  • Only Human

    Mental Health America released the film Only Human, which played on over 150 television stations. Its goal was to enhance the public's understanding of mental illness and their openness to persons with mental illness (mhanational.org).
  • Nixon Ceases Funding

    President Nixon ceased funds toward the National Institute of Mental Health. Mental Health America played an immense role in reversing this decision.
  • Community Mental Health Centers Funded

    Due to a lawsuit in which Mental Health America took part in, a federal judge ordered the release of $52 million in ceased funds voted by Congress for community mental health centers (mhanational.org).
  • Have You Ever Been Mentally Ill?

    The U.S. Civil Service Commission agreed to Mental Health America’s demand that the “Have you ever been mentally Ill?” question not be included in federal government employment forms (mhanational.org).
  • President Carter's Efforts

    President Carter created the President’s Commission on Mental Health, the first thorough and comprehensive survey of mental healthcare since the 50s (mhanational.org).
  • NARSAD Formed

    1980's and Depression (NARSAD) is a foundation that was formed in order to raise private sector funds to pay for research on mental illnesses.
  • Protection and Advocacy of the Mentally Ill Act

    Mental Health America’s public policy initiative cultivated Congress' passage of the Protection and Advocacy for the Mentally Ill Act (mhanational.org).
  • Impact on Rural Areas

    The National Action Commission on the Mental Health of Rural Americans was initiated by MHA to examine service and policy issues regarding the delivery of mental health services to citizens residing in rural areas whose lives have been affected by major social and economic change (mhanational.org).
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

    Mental Health America assisted in the creation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prevents mentally and physically disabled Americans from being discriminated against in areas such as employment, public accommodations, transportation, telecommunications, and state and local government services.
  • Mental Health Parity Act

    “Mental Health Parity Act,” was passed, which was the first federal legislation to bring more equity to health insurance coverage of mental health care (mhanational.org).
  • President Clinton's Efforts

    President Clinton decided to end discrimination in mental health insurance coverage for 9 million federal workers and their families by implementing mental health insurance parity for federal workers (mhanational.org).
  • Juvenlines on Death Row

    The Supreme Court ruled that death penalty for juvenile offenders unconstitutional, consequently removing 73 individuals from death row (mhanational.org).
  • Mental Health Parity Act Signed Into Law

    The Mental Health Parity Act was signed into law (mhanational.org).
  • Before Stage 4

    Mental Health America beings the campaign Before Stage 4 (#B4Stage4), which focuses on prevention, identification and intervention, treatment, services, supports, and most importantly, recovery as a goal.
  • Helping Families In Mental Crisis Act

    The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act was passed, and it prioritized hospitalization and court-ordered treatment, and focused on integrating mental health into primary care and addressing mental health needs across all stages of life and at all levels of severity.
  • SUPPORT Is Passed

    The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018 was passed, which was significant legislation in response to the opioid epidemic. It outlines policies on addressing trauma, financing peer support specialists, and protecting access to effective care (mhanational.org).
  • LGBTQ+ Mental Health: Insights from MHA Screening

    Mental Health America released LGBTQ+ Mental Health: Insights from MHA Screening, a report that explored the data from nearly 300,000 screens completed by LGBTQ+ individuals. It highlights the struggles that these individuals endure (mhanational.org).