Friday Oct 24

Mental Health Time Line

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How Far We’ve Come: A Timeline of Mental Health Policy

1247: Bethlehem Hospital (more frequently known as ‘Bedlam’) opens in London to house ‘distraught and lunatik people.’1.

1566: The New World’s first mental hospital is established in Mexico City.2.

1774: The Act for Regulating Madhouses, Licensing, and Inspection is passed in England. The law forbade a person’s commitment to a madhouse without a physician’s certification of that individual’s insanity.3.

1790’s: A Quaker called William Turke opens the York Retreat near York, England, an asylum for the mentally ill. The Retreat favored humane treatment; physical restraints were not used and patients were comfortably housed.4.

1790’s: French physician Phillipe Pinel begins working at the Bicêntre and Salpêtrière asylums where he develops ‘traitement morale,’ a form of treatment that focused on the mental origins of madness. His kind treatment of his patients brought about recovery for many.5.

1817: Quakers in Philadelphia open the first asylum in America based on the principles of moral treatment.6.

1841: Dorothea Dix, a schoolteacher from Cambridge Massachusetts, becomes inspired to take up the cause of the mentally ill. She travels to several states where she lobbies state legislatures to better their treatment of the mentally ill. Over thirty state mental hospitals were opened as a result of her efforts.7.

1867: The Packard Law passes in Illinois. Named for Eliza Packard, a woman committed against her will by her husband after a property dispute, the law required that a patient’s insanity be determined by a jury before he or she could be sent to an institution.

1927: The US Supreme Court rules in Buck v. Bell that the forced sterilization of ‘defectives,’ including the mentally ill, is constitutional.8.

1954: The Durham Rule is established by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It states that a person accused of a crime is not responsible if the criminal act “was the product of a mentaldisease or a mental defect.” It was later rejected due to problems defining ‘mental disease’ and ‘product.’9.

1963: Congress passes the Community Mental Health Centers Act. This leads to the closure of many large state psychiatric hospitals.10.

1966: Lake v. Cameron, a case of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit , declares that patients in psychiatric hospitals have the right to receive treatment in the setting that is least restrictive.11.

1975: US Senate holds hearings about the use of neuroleptics (antipsychotic drugs such as Thorazine) in juvenile jails and homes for the developmentally disabled.12.

1979: NAMI is founded.13.

1988: The Fair Housing Amendments Act prohibits housing discrimination against people with disabilities, including mental disabilities.14.

1990: The Americans with Disabilities Act is passed. It prohibits discrimination against people with physical or mental disabilities.15.

2004: DuPage County begins the Mental Illness Court Alternative Program (MICAP.)16.

2008: Congress passes the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act. It requires that any limits to insurance coverage for mental illness be no more restrictive than those for physical health issues.17.

2010: Williams v. Quinn, a case heard by U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, rules that Illinois residents with mental illnesses living in nursing homes and other ‘institutions for mental diseases’ (IMDs) have the right to live in integrated settings in the community.18.

2012 The agreement in Colbert v. Quinn, signed today by Judge Lefkow, for the first time will give Medicaid-eligible nursing home residents in Cook County a meaningful choice about where they wish to live, affording them the opportunity to live in their own homes and participate in the community. Link to Press Release HERE



1. Horwitz, Madness, Magic, and Medicine, 177.

2. “Timeline: Treatments for Mental Illness,” accessed 18 August 2011,

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/nash/timeline/timeline2.html

3. Fred Ovsiew and Richard Munich, The Principles of Inpatient Psychiatry (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008), 10.

4. Whitaker, Mad in America, 177

5. “About NAMI,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_NAMI

6. “History of the Bazelon Center,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.bazelon.org/Who-We-Are/History.aspx

7. “History of the Bazelon Center,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.bazelon.org/Who-We-Are/History.aspx

8. “DuPage County Il. Mental Illness Court Alternative Program (MICAP),” accessed 18 August 2011, http://consensusproject.org/program_examples/dupage_county_il_mental_illness_court_alternative_program_micap

9. “The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) Fact Sheet,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fsmhpaea.html

10. “Documents Relevant to Williams v. Quinn - Class Action Lawsuit Seeking Community-Living Alternatives for Residents with Mental Illnesses in Illinois,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.equipforequality.org/news/pressreleases/williamsblagojevichfiles.php

11. Fred Ovsiew and Richard Munich, The Principles of Inpatient Psychiatry (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2008),

12.  Whitaker, Mad in America, 177

13.  “About NAMI,” accessed  18 August 2011, http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=About_NAMI

14. “History of the Bazelon Center,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.bazelon.org/Who-We-Are/History.aspx

15.  “History of the Bazelon Center,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.bazelon.org/Who-We-Are/History.aspx

16.  “DuPage County Il. Mental Illness Court Alternative Program (MICAP),” accessed 18 August 2011, http://consensusproject.org/program_examples/dupage_county_il_mental_illness_court_alternative_program_micap

17.  “The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (MHPAEA) Fact Sheet,” accessed 18 August 2011, http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/fsmhpaea.html

18.  “Documents Relevant to Williams v. Quinn

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