Sat Dec 24, 2011, 11:53 PM
steve2470 (30,707 posts)
Ronald Reagan, mental health, and spin
For the next twelve months, the Ronald Reagan image machine will be turning out countless vignettes of the nation's 40th president, the man neighbors called "Dutch." He will be described as no-nonsense yet kindly, remote but avuncular, a movies-star-turned-politician, and remembered as a local lifeguard rescuing people in troubled waters. With dashing good looks, a sonorous tone that became the voice of General Electric, and an affable smile, even those who disagreed with his policies will say he was genuinely kind-hearted.
So what did this mean practically for policies about mental health? Here we need to ask how the image departs from the reality.
Contrary to the spin about trimming government, which he called "the problem," we all know he oversaw increases in federal spending that exploded the national debt, and grew the size of the government he impugned. Another part of the reality, rarely the image, is how he attempted to savage the entitlement system and roll back supports for people with a mental illness.
When Ronald Reagan arrived in Washington, he inherited the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. One of the last achievements of Pres. Jimmy Carter, this was passed by the House 277 to 15, in the Senate, 93 to 3. With as many critics as there were special interests, it was far from perfect. Yet it expanded the federal government's commitment to services, to research, to training professionals, and to patient rights. It identified stigma as an impediment to seeking and receiving services. It established parity in Medicaid and Medicare. It recognized the link between physical health and mental health. And it dedicated $800 million over 4 years to redress the gross neglect of the commitment to mental health in earlier administrations. In short, it moved an agenda that minimized homelessness, the reliance on expensive nursing homes, jails and prisons, and one that to more hopeful choices for those who needed help.
*much more at link*
This was prompted by this thread in LBN: http://www.democraticunderground.com/10149215
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Ronald Reagan, mental health, and spin (Original post)
Response to steve2470 (Original post)
Sun Dec 25, 2011, 12:14 AM
freshwest (53,661 posts)
1. Thanks for reminding us what we lost when we lost Carter. And as far as the link goes...
Yes, that's true there, but the real default for the mentally ill and also those who were formerly helped by institutions due to disability, is prison.
All the moralizing claptrap since whitewashes the larger crime of not maintaining these services.