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A Mind That Found Itself: An Autobiography
(2) by maintaining an office, or offices, where persons in need of assistance, or advice regarding the perplexing questions relating to nervous or mental disorders, may, for the asking, be brought into contact with those physicians or laymen best qualified to give the information they desire.
(3) by instituting and carrying on Social Service work under the guidance of physicians in charge of the hospitals which co-operate with the Society.
(a) This Society shall appoint a Social Service Committee for the purpose of assisting patients who, without help of some kind at the time of their discharge from hospitals or of their recovery at home, would find the struggle for existence so severe as to cause a relapse, often necessitating commitment or recommitment. This Committee shall also engage in the work of Prevention by advising and assisting persons in the community who may be in danger of nervous or mental collapse.
(b) In each city and town in Connecticut, as the need may become manifest, the Society shall appoint a local Social Service Committee or volunteer social worker to represent it.
(4) by striving to make the operation of the laws of commitment more in keeping with the medical aspects of the problem.
The placing of all patients in the hands of medical and health officers, or accredited Social Service workers, pending their transfer to a hospital, would do away with the cruelty of treating many unfortunates as prisoners in lockups and jails during the initial and usually critical stage of their illness, as now so often happens in all States of the Union.
(5) by instructing the public regarding the necessity for, and advantages of, prompt hospital treatment in cases of mental disorder.
(6) by co-operating with institutions, societies, state and local Boards, and individuals, engaged in the work of protecting or improving the health of the public.
The Society shall create a Fund to be used for Social Service work, for the benefit of the indigent insane and their families, for the payment of prizes to nurses and attendants, and such other purposes as the Board of Directors may designate.
This Society approves the movement for organizing and centralizing the Federal health agencies under a Bureau of Health, with a division for Mental Hygiene. The labor of scientific investigation and of gathering and disseminating knowledge concerning the public health should not be performed by private agencies alone; for, as ex-President Roosevelt has said: "Our national health is physically our greatest asset."
ALL INSANITIES ARE NOT INCURABLE DISEASES
About twenty-five per cent of those who are committed to hospitals recover their previous health and capacity for self-support, and an added twenty per cent, discharged as "improved," are also able to return to their homes. If breaking minds were brought under treatment as promptly as are broken bones, the percentage of recoveries among the insane could undoubtedly be increased. Those forms of insanity which supply a majority of chronic and incurable cases, develop slowly from causes which might be recognized and dealt with long before the patient is considered actually insane. There is no reason to assume that these forms of insanity are inherently incurable, as they have generally been long neglected before there is thought of treatment. If the causes were recognized and the cases treated in their incipiency, the final outcome might be entirely different.
From forty to fifty per cent of all cases of mental disorder are due to well defined and avoidable causes. This means that thousands of the 200,000 mental incompetents in this country became insane not through fate, but through ignorance and neglect. In consequence, effective work in Prevention will keep out of hospitals thousands of persons who otherwise would be committed to them. When the public appreciates the significance of this fact, it will begin to regard insanity with that intelligent optimism with which it now regards certain bodily disorders, once dreaded because not understood. Each person who shows a rational attitude toward disorders of the mind will do much toward hastening the day of universal enlightenment on this subject.
The cure of insanity lies in its prompt and intelligent treatment, and in prevention. It is, therefore, essential that the whole public should become as familiar with the principles of mental hygiene and their practical application, as it already is with the facts regarding the prevention of tuberculosis. PRIZES
Prizes amounting to One Hundred and Eighty Dollars ($180) are offered by this Society to nurses and attendants in the three Hospitals for the Insane in Connecticut which are under the management of Boards of Trustees and are, therefore, public or semi-private in character, viz.: The Connecticut State Hospital, The Norwich State Hospital, and The Hartford Retreat.
Two First Prizes of $20 each, and certificates of award, will be given to two nurses or attendants, one woman and one man, in each of the aforementioned hospitals, who, between March 1, 1910, and January 1, 1911, excel in those virtues which distinguish a competent nurse or attendant. Each superintendent shall select the winners of these First Prizes in his own institution, and shall base his decision either upon personal knowledge or reports submitted by his assistant physicians.