Teaching Students About Deinstitutionalization
Deinstitutionalization refers to the closing down of mental hospitals or institutions and the provision of community-based alternatives for people with mental illnesses. This shift from institutionalization to community care began in the 1960s and 1970s, with the establishment of community mental health centers. However, it wasn’t until the 1980s that the deinstitutionalization movement gained momentum and significant progress was made.
Teaching students about deinstitutionalization is crucial in promoting a broader understanding of mental health issues, removing stigma, and advocating for the rights of people with mental illnesses. Here are some key points to include when teaching students about deinstitutionalization.
The History of Institutionalization
Students should be taught about the history of institutionalization. They should understand how mental illnesses were regarded in different cultures and how they were treated. For example, in medieval Europe, people with mental illnesses were treated with superstition and fear. In contrast, some indigenous cultures in Africa and Asia have a more positive view of mental illnesses, seeing them as a spiritual calling or a gift.
The Birth of the Deinstitutionalization Movement
Students should be familiar with the factors that led to the deinstitutionalization movement. The movement was spurred by several factors, including a change in attitudes towards mental illnesses, the development of psychotropic medications, and the legal challenges to the conditions of mental hospitals. Students should also learn about the impact that the landmark case of Wyatt v. Stickney had on deinstitutionalization in the United States.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Deinstitutionalization
Students should understand that deinstitutionalization brought about significant changes in the mental healthcare system. For example, individuals with mental illnesses gained greater autonomy and dignity, as they were given a chance to live in community settings. However, there were also negative consequences, such as the overcrowding of jails and prisons with people with mental illnesses who could not access adequate care in the community.
Advocacy and Empathy
Teaching students about deinstitutionalization can help them become advocates for people with mental illnesses. They can learn how to challenge negative stereotypes and promote empathy towards individuals with mental illnesses. Students can also learn how to work towards solutions that promote greater access to care and support for those living with mental illnesses.
In conclusion, education about deinstitutionalization is essential for promoting positive change in the mental healthcare system. Students who understand the history of institutionalization, the birth of the deinstitutionalization movement, the benefits and drawbacks of deinstitutionalization, and the importance of advocacy and empathy can become agents of change in the fight against mental illness stigma.