One of the main functions of every government and society as a whole is to take care of its individuals and provide them with all the necessary facilities and conditions. Social environment is also one of the essential aspects that our government should think of, especially for mentally ill individuals. Much more attention is paid to the development and improvement of mental health systems and treatment nowadays, particularly since the late 1960s. One of the bright examples is deinstitutionalization that can be characterized as a rather continuing and evolving process. However, deinstitutionalization has recently evoked a great number of discussions and debates concerning its both positive and negative effects and others aspects. Thus only a thorough analysis of the scientific and up-to-date materials can shed more light onto this problem.
Before discussing effects of deinstitutionalization it is necessary to understand the meaning of this notion and what constitutes the quality life in general. Many believe that quality life should provide individuals with proper interaction within the society and their basic rights. Curtis states in his article “Unstable Situation” that “deinstitutionalization is a long-term trend wherein fewer people reside as patients in mental hospitals and fewer mental health treatments are delivered in public hospitals, and this trend is due directly to the process of closing public hospitals and ensuing transfers of patients to community-based mental health services”. According to Curtis, the main positive effects of deinstitutionalization include “evolution in the structure, practice, experiences and purposes of mental health care”, and etc. (Curtis, 2008). Deinstitutionalization is also perceived as a symbol of freedom as in such way many individuals got access to an ordinary life with all its pros and cons and they are not limited by walls anymore. Deinstitutionalization surely is a certain measure of an increased liberty and freedom and these aspects are extremely important for every person.
As for the negative sides of deinstitutionalization, it is possible to mention the fact that many mentally ill patients get rid of hospitals, however, they are placed into prisons as they are unable to cope with a great number of societal norms. Another serious negative effect is that many individuals that suffer from a particular mental disease are not provided with the proper provision and aftercare by mental institutions and thus they often get involved in the criminal activity. Moreover, numerous stereotypes and negative attitudes to mentally ill individuals serve as a huge obstacle for deinstitutionalization as society does not want to accept such individuals because of their personal fears or prejudices.
Moreover, those people who left hospitals had and have very real needs, but they often are singular and even idiosyncratic needs. Unfortunately, nowadays many health care programs are so narrowly defined and so closely targeted to so specialized groups of population that far too many people, often the neediest cases, "fall through the cracks". Mental illness became a regular feature of daily life, whether in the heartrending form of the homeless mentally ill living desperate, miserable lives in public, or in the terrifying form of the unpredictable "psycho". Sadly, it is not just the uninformed general public, who has misapplied the term deinstitutionalization not only to cover its roots in public policy but also to explain its disastrous fallout in prominent social failures like homelessness. What we understand as deinstitutionalization is a phenomenon with its basis chiefly in untested assumptions, magical thinking and anecdotes and legends; moreover, it appears that those responsible for making what mental health policy we do have are among the most faithful believers in those myths.
As a conclusion, it should be said that deinstitutionalization and its effects turned out to be rather controversial question and there is no particular viewpoint concerning it. An important thing that it is a rather continuing and evolving process and thus there is a strong hope that this debate and issue will be resolved soon.
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