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treatment of mental illness in the community. Evidence that this would require a major effort seemed apparent; for example, only $1 was being spent on Community Mental Health Services for every $10 being spent for care in State institutions.
The American Public Health Association was and is in complete agreement with your Committee's conviction that there must be established for the citizen who needs it the capability to obtain through a single point of contact the full range of diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitative services, whether in-patient or out-patient, for the mental illness from which he may suffer. We are not convinced, however, that this concept has been accepted by some involved in programs of mental health. We hope your Committee will continue every effort to bring about the desired change of emphasis from the large institutionalized facility to the community-centered mental health program.
We urge, therefore, that the basic elements of the Community Mental Health Services Act be extended as is proposed in H.R. 6431. Would you please make this statement a part of the record of hearings on H.R. 6431?
AMERICAN HOSPITAL ASSOCIATION, Washington, D.C., April 6, 1967. Hon. JOHN JARMAN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Health, Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CongressMAN JARMAN : This statement is sent to you to express the views of the American Hospital Association in respect to H.R. 6431, a bill “to amend the public health laws relating to mental health to extend, expand, and improve them, and for other purposes.” The American Hospital Association strongly supported the legislation developed in 1963 which resulted in the Community Mental Health Centers Act. We further supported the amendments to the Act developed in 1965 which had the primary purpose of providing assistance in meeting certain costs of professional and technical personnel utilized within comprehensive mental health centers. At the time the Congress was considering the professional and technical personnel assistance amendments of 1965, we stressed our belief that the costs involved in mental health care were such that the government would likely have to be involved on a continuing basis. We further strongly urged that the matter of such financing be approached on a long range basis. We suggested that such a continuing financing program to be sound should require more than short-term federal monies but should provide a basis for continuing grants with state and local participation. It was our belief that once a mental health center was developed and in operation, there was no evidence to substantiate any decreasing need for financial support. As we have observed the program in its development, our beliefs have been confirmed by reports we have received from throughout the field. A good many hospitals have not undertaken to participate in the program because of the uncertainties of continued financial support. Boards of trustees are fearful of becoming involved in major mental health developments when they can foresee no continuing assurances as to their ability to finance the projects. Therefore, we urge once again that this committee approach the problem on a long-range basis and amend the law so as to require continued federal financing with state and local participation. We wish to comment also on the over-all operation of the mental health program. On the basis of all evidence then available, we expressed our beliefs at the time the legislation was being developed that basically it was essential to develop the program so that mental health care would be developed within the main stream of the communities' over-all health programs. One obvious means for such an accomplishment was to utilize fully the potential of community general hospitals and, of course, the medical staffs of such hospitals. We are concerned that the program in its development to date is failing to utilize the full potential of existing health facilities throughout the country. We have had repeated statements from around the country that a basic problem is the rigidity with which the state mental health commissioners have administered the program. By and large, it is our impression that they have had too little interest in seeing community general hospitals participate; and, in fact, the statements are made that attempts on the part of general hospitals to participate are often frustrated. It is the contention of general hospitals that there is real danger of mental health moving back into the old pattern of its devolpment outside the general medical care community and within separate mental care institutions. We believe this would be an unfortunate continuation of past practices and policies. As we have viewed these problems it has seemed to us that in part the present total emphasis on the comprehensiveness of the program may be at fault. There are undoubtedly large medical complexes where it is entirely fitting that a truly comprehensive approach to mental health be developed. However, it is obvious that such situations are relatively few in number when we view the country as a whole. It is strongly suggested that this legislation should be amended so as to make possible the full contribution of general hospitals and the medical care community without the necessity of in every instance insisting that only a totally comprehensive program will be approved. It is our feeling that this desirable result could be accomplished by amending the law so as to permit the Surgeon General to approve less than totally comprehensive programs in areas of the country where it is demonstrated that such comprehensiveness is not feasible and yet where it can be demonstrated that an important service can be provided on less than a comprehensive basis and in such a way that we are thus taking advantage of all potential resources, Another hindering aspect of the present mental health program is the high priority given to patients residing in what is defined as “catchment” areas. This suggests a geographic approach to the definition of areas which can be served. Such a definition is totally contrary to the concept of the normal health service areas. The larger community hospitals, and particularly all those which are teaching hospitals, do not draw patients from any specific geographic area. Patients come from widely divergent areas not circumscribed by any set boundaries. We suggest that mentally ill patients can best be served by developing programs for those patients who are normally attracted to a given medical center. This appears especially necessary since it will be a very long period of time before the country is likely to be blanketed by community mental health programs. The hospitals of the nation as represented by this Association are keenly aware of the enormity of the problems involved in developing adequate health care programs for the mentally ill. We applaud the demonstrated desire of the federal government to stimulate and encourage local community action. This statement is in no wise intended to be simply critical of the past performance of the program. On the contrary, we express our strong belief that it is essential that the full potential of individual communities and the nation's health resources be utilized in an approach to the problems involved. We are fearful that at the present time we are failing to develop programs in such a way as to maximize such full potential and so that such a result will be achieved. We appreciate the opportunity of expressing these views and request the statement be made a part of the published record of the hearings. Sincerely yours, KENNETH WILLIAMSON, Associate Director.
AMERICAN NURSEs’ Association, INC.,
Hon. HARLEY O. STAGGERs,
DEAR MR. STAGGERs: The American Nurses' Association, the professional or. ganization of registered nurses, wishes to record its support of H.R. 6431, which o to extend, expand and improve the public health laws relating to mental
The American Nurses' Association supported enactment of Public Law 88–164
which provided assistance for construction of mental health centers and Public
Law 89–105, which authorized financial assistance to help the centers meet the cost of professional and technical personnel. We supported the legislation because we were aware that the treatment of the mentally ill in state hospitals was handicapped because of the size, location and staffing patterns of these institutions. Too frequently care has been custodial rather than therapeutic largely due to the lack of professional personnel. This resulted in frequent, long, or permanent hospitalizations. Additionally, the isolated location of most state hospitals deprived patients of close, Supportive Contacts with family, friends, and community life. This situation also made recruitment of qualified personnel more difficult. The establishment of community mental health centers is a relatively new approach to the prevention and treatment of the mentally ill. Many communities already have available diagnostic and treatment facilities, inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services, and provisions for emergency care and rehabilitation. In most instances these are not coordinated to the extent that continuing Supervision of patients is provided from the onset of symptoms through to complete rehabilitation. One important function of the community mental health center was to stimulate coordinating of these various efforts to improve services to patients and families. The availability of services in localities where people live can result in early recognition of illness and intervention at a time when treatment is likely to be more successful and lastng. For patients who may still require hospitalization away from their homes, the community mental health center is a resource for providing follow-up care and rehabilitative services. The hospital stay would, therefore, be shorter enabling the individual more quickly to resume his proper role in Society. In addition to providing direct services to patients and families, the mental health center also has an educational function in the community. Because of lack of knowledge and understanding of the pathological process by members of the family and community, the mentally ill were all too frequently rejected. The support and understanding of relatives is vital to full recovery. Because hospitals for the mentally ill are generally in isolated areas, an effective sustained plan for interpreting mental illness and the patient's needs to his family is frequently impossible. Closer collaboration is necessary between mental health personnel and other health workers in public and private community agencies, and with practicing physicians, nurses and social workers. Although their major function may not be directly related to mental health and mental illness, they too have a responsibility in prevention, in follow-up care, and in rehabilitation. The staff of the community mental health center becomes a resource for helping these allied professional groups broaden their understanding and knowledge of mental health and therefore, provide more effective service. The centers provide clinical facilities where doctors, nurses, psychologists and social workers can gain first hand experience in working with psychiatric patients and their families. In addition, consultant service is made available to those coping with the behavior problems of the child and adolescent. The success of programs to combat mental illness depends in large measure on the availability of well-qualified professional manpower. We have stated repeatedly that buildings alone cannot constitute a program. They provide only facilities for treatment. The provision of treatment and the quality of care is dependent on personnel. We, therefore, urge your Committee to approve the extension of the provision for meeting the costs for staffing mental health centers. Your bill H.R. 6431 will continue the assistance to states to help them deal effectively with the problem of mental illness and further relieve them of the tremendous financial burden they carried so long. Establishment of the mental health centers is providing a means, not only for helping patients in their own communities, but also for developing new types of programs that are less costly than the traditional confinement in a longterm institution. We urge the favorable consideration of H.R. 6431 and request that this communication be made a part of your Committee's record of hearings. Sincerely yours, JUDITH G. WHITAKER, R.N., Earecutive Director.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL Workers, INC.,
Hon. HARLEY O. STAGGERs,
DEAR MR. STAGGERS: In behalf of the 47,000 members of the National Association of Social Workers, may I express support for H.R. 6431—the Mental Health Amendments of 1967.
Our organization supported this legislation when it was enacted. Our many members who are involved in the carrying out of the programs have told us of the changing patterns of services meaning more effective care which are now possible.
In most communities the programs are really just getting under way and not only continued but increased appropriations are needed to sustain the effectiveness of the community mental health approach.
We should like to make a final comment in support of Section 5 of H.R. 6431– establishing a contingency fund. We see this as insurance for sustaining important programs which otherwise might become bogged down or cut off because of unforeseeable administrative complexities.
(Whereupon, at 2:25 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.) O