Public Policy and Mental Illnesses: Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Commission on Mental Health

September 2005 | Gerald N. Grob

President Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Commission on Mental Health was intended to recommend policies to overcome obvious deficiencies in the mental health system. Bureaucratic rivalries within and between governments; tensions and rivalries within the mental health professions; identity and interest group politics; the difficulties of distinguishing the respective etiological roles of such elements as poverty, racism, stigmatization, and unemployment; and an illusory faith in prevention all influenced the commission’s deliberations and subsequent enactment of the short-lived Mental Health Systems Act. The commission’s work led to the formulation of the influential National Plan for the Chronically Mentally Ill, but a system of care and treatment for persons with serious mental illnesses was never created.

Author(s): Gerald N. Grob

Keywords: Jimmy Carter’s Presidential Commission on Mental Health; Mental Health Systems Act; mental health policy; deinstitutionalization; mental illnesses

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Volume 83, Issue 3 (pages 425–456)
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0009.2005.00408.x
Published in 2005