“The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won.”*
On October 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law ( Note: this was the second piece of October 24, 1963 ) the Community Mental Health Act to federally fund community mental health centers and research facilities devoted to the treatment of mental illness. It was the last legislation President Kennedy signed into law.
President John F. Kennedy seemed to have deep empathy and was willing to brave the “New Frontier” with the community Mental Health Act. JFK was the first to launch his administration to publicly acknowledge “intellectual disability” (Psychological Disorders/Mental Disorder). In the 60′s, this was a neglected issue and he seemed to have high hopes for the Legislation for Mental Health Care Act.
The 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act gives our community the occasion to celebrate a vision for behavioral health that has been 50 years in the making. This was a bold new approach to mental health, one in which custodial care would be replaced by an open warmth of the communities. “JFK established a vision we still strive to fully realize today — to create a community focused on prevention, treatment, education, and recovery.” says Jessica Boles, Director of Marketing at Charlotte Behavioral Health Care.
In the past 50 years, new medications, psychotherapies, peer support, and other treatment technologies have dramatically expanded the ability to treat a range of conditions. And today, more people with mental illnesses get treated than at any other time in history — mostly in community settings.
Yet, while science and public policy have taken giant leaps since 1963, as JFK warned, “The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won.”
Patrick Kennedy, who has formed The Kennedy Forum to create a national conversation on mental health and addictions, said in a recent National Council for Behavioral Health blog article, “The intent and energy behind the Community Mental Health Act diminished in the years following JFK’s untimely death. The money didn’t follow patients from institutions to the community, as he envisioned. While we’ve provided community and family-based treatment for many, we haven’t been able to make it a reality for all who need it.”
Fifty years ago, President Kennedy said, “The new frontier is here, whether we seek it or not.” He described it as one of “unknown opportunities and perils, a frontier of unfulfilled hopes and threats.” In the new frontier, mental health and addictions treatment has parity with all other healthcare treatments. The Affordable Care Act is expanding mental health and addiction benefits to 62 million Americans. This will accelerate an already growing demand for behavioral health services and for care on request.
“Charlotte Behavioral Health Care looks forward to working with its legislators and the community to achieve the full promise of the Community Mental Health Act”, Boles says.
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care is your local private non-profit agency providing behavioral health, recovery support, crisis and addiction services to adults, adolescents and children in Charlotte County. Since opening our doors in 1969, we have over 40 years of experience serving over 10,000 Charlotte County resident a year, many of which are children.~~~~ *“The problems are not all solved and the battles are not all won.” – Senator John F. Kennedy Accepting the Democratic Party Nomination for the Presidency of the United States – Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles July 15, 1960 Note: The second piece of legislation, approved on October 31, 1963, provided funding for the construction