Why is the mental health rights movement so important?
Almost 44 million Americans experience mental illness every year.
That’s why we support mental health education, advocacy, and public policy. The mental health rights movement is key to making the progress that our society needs.
Mental Health Statistics
Everyone knows and cares about someone living with a mental health condition.
Because mental illness is so prevalent, mental health rights should be at the forefront of our discussion even more prominently.
Unfortunately, stigma associated with mental health conditions can prevent people from seeking support and accessing the mental health services they need. Mental health rights activists and advocacy groups fight to break down this stigma.
A Brief History of the Mental Health Rights Movement
In the 19th century, people with mental health conditions were horribly mistreated. In psychiatric institutions, for example, forced lobotomies and sterilizations were commonplace.
Dorothea Dix, one of the first mental health activists, fought for better living conditions for the mentally ill in the 1800s. Her efforts convinced the U.S. government to build 32 new state psychiatric hospitals.
The 20th century saw more improvements and progress for the mental health rights movement. Some notable dates include:
- The founding of Mental Health America in 1909, a nonprofit committed to promoting mental health rights
- The passage of the National Mental Health Act in 1946, which created the National Institute of Mental Health and provided government funds for research into causes and treatments for mental illness
- The passage of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, which provided federal funding for community-based mental health services
Then, in 2008, Congress passed the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA). This was a landmark act that made insurance providers offer comparable insurance coverage for mental health, substance abuse disorder, and physical health care.
These advancements are important to recognize, but they’re not enough. Today, people with mental health conditions face discrimination, difficulty accessing mental health services, and high health care costs.
While our society has moved away from the days of forced lobotomies and sterilizations, we still have a long way to go.
What are Mental Health Rights?
Mental Health America’s list of mental health rights helps guide this fight for equality.
MHA asserts that those living with mental health conditions have the same rights and protections under the law as everyone else. These rights include, but are not limited to:
- Liberty and autonomy
- Protection from seclusion and restraint
- Community inclusion
- Access to services
Mental Health America, like many organizations, is striving for a world where mental health rights are universally upheld and respected.
To achieve these goals, public policy for mental health rights are vital. The National Alliance on Mental Illness states that public policy helps provide access to services, funding for research, and equality under insurance coverage.
Join the Mental Health Rights Movement
Find out how The Chicago School of Professional Psychology can help you become a proactive leader in the mental health rights movement.
Our degree programs can help you launch your career in mental health counseling, public policy, forensic psychology, activism, and more.