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The Community Mental Health Act of 1963

The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 was signed into law by President John F. Kennedy on October 31, 1963, and marked an important shift in U.S. mental health treatment policy that had begun in the 1950s and culminated in the 1970s with deinstitutionalization, the movement to eliminate large psychiatric hospitals and treat patients in outpatient facilities, communities, and homes instead of hospitals.

What is the Community Mental Health Act?

As mental health diagnoses became more common in society, mental health hospitals and institutions weren't enough to cope with the problem. That's why the Illinois Community Mental Health Act was passed.

The act allowed a multitude of different community organizations such as local hospitals, nursing homes, and churches to provide treatment for people who needed it. These programs were overseen by the Department of Mental Health & Developmental Disabilities.

The History of the Community Mental Health Act

In 1957, the President’s Commission on Mental Illness reported that over 300,000 people with mental illness were institutionalized against their will. They also found that 90% of mentally ill individuals in state hospitals were incurable and needed treatment in a community setting.

Community Mental Health in Illinois

The Illinois Community Mental Health Act (1967) was created to supply a comprehensive mental health care delivery system with an awareness and understanding of the social system in which it functions. This is based on the idea that by utilizing community resources, such as local churches, neighborhoods, schools, volunteer groups and other institutions like libraries and shopping malls - mental health will be made available to all who need it.

The Governor signed the Illinois Community Mental Health Act into law, allowing regional councils to be set up to provide outpatient and community-based services for those who had been previously institutionalized and paved the way for future healthcare policy reform nationally.

The LaSalle County Mental Health Board exists to distribute these funds to local non-profits.



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