Policy Documents

Reinventing Mental Health Care

E. Fuller Torrey –
October 4, 1999

In this article in City Journal, Torrey writes about the dismal state of mental health services in the United States.  Mental health patients have been neglected despite the real public health issue it carries with it.  Torrey asserts that, 

amously—and for the flimsiest of reasons, ranging from a governmental desire to save money to the once-fashionable belief that mental illness is only a different but perfectly valid form of consciousness—the nation largely dismantled its mental health care system over the last 40 years. Less well known, though, is that the outlines of a reasonable new mental health system have quietly begun to take shape. So far, it is a tentative, piecemeal development; and federal policy, instead of helping it cohere into a rational, comprehensive whole, is stymieing and retarding it at every point. For that reason, it seems important to spell out just what the emerging new U.S. mental health care system looks like—and how policymakers can help ensure that what finally takes form will be as rational, humane, and effective as we can make it.