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Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
In our personal relations with others we can encourage learning more, serving more, and giving more. Our influence can cause many informative programs on problems of mental health to be conducted by our clubs, churches, schools, and social agencies. Here again are endless possibilities for each of us to be actively working to improve conditions for mental patients through our influence.
In all these matters of influence, however, we will do our most effective work if we join forces with other like-minded people and work not only as individuals, but also as groups. There are mental health groups already formed in communities all over the country -- some are doing excellent work, others need new life and new stimulation. The National Mental Health Foundation can give you detailed information about any groups already organized in your community.
But thousands of communities have no such group. If this is the case in your community, you have an important and challenging opportunity to use your influence where it is needed most. If America's number one health problem is to be solved, it must be solved by local groups of citizens all over the country. Organizing such local groups is, therefore, one of the most effective contributions which can be made to improving the plight of those who are out of sight, out of mind. Your influence can be increased a hundred-fold through an effective mental health organization.
The last several pages have been devoted to answering the question which all readers of this book must have asked when confronted with the undeniable, shocking truth about conditions in mental hospitals -- "What can we do?" These suggestions are far from exhaustive, but they should be ample to give every reader some place to begin. We need to learn more, serve more, give more, and influence more, if we are to change these conditions.
There is still one narrow escape-gap which many of us will be tempted to try in our last effort to avoid doing something about these conditions. We can agree that all of the suggestions ought to be carried out, and that we ought to do these things. But as we express this agreement, we need to ask ourselves, "Who ought?" Very possibly you will answer:
"Why, we ought -- the people, the government, organizations like the National Mental Health Foundation -- they ought to do these things."
If that is your answer, then stop right there and plug up that one last escape. Think it over a little, and finally declare: "Who ought? I ought!" For that is where ultimate responsibility rests -- on you! You will need the support of others in groups and organizations. But organizations are nothing more than active and concerned individuals, working together toward a common end. We each must bear our share of responsibility.
It is your choice. Which shall we have? Shall we allow the conditions depicted in this book to continue to exist? Are you willing to reread those incidents, point to them, and say, "I allowed that to happen, and I'll let it happen again?" Or are you going to get busy learning more, serving more, giving more and influencing more, to see that changes for the better are made -- and made soon?
You are on trial before the bar of justice for gross neglect and indifference. You cannot plead irresponsibility, saying that you did not know. The only valid plea that you can enter is that you are working hard to see to it that such things shall never happen again.
The National Mental Health Foundation is an outgrowth of concern on the part of citizens who, shocked and chagrined by what they have learned about institutions for the mentally ill and the mentally deficient, have themselves set about to learn more, serve more, give more and influence more -- to the end that the atrocities which daily occur in mental institutions may be speedily reduced.
In present conditions in institutions, the members of the Foundation see not only a national disgrace but a threat to the national well-being. They know that such total neglect and such needless misery cannot coexist with a healthy and productive society. The demands of humanitarianism and self-preservation call upon us for an immediate and positive attack upon the problems of mental disease.
The Foundation strives for active participation by its members. Membership is open to all who are concerned about mental health and share the objectives of the Foundation. At the same time that a drive tor an expanded membership in the Foundation is underway, an effort is being made to encourage all persons to support local and state mental health organizations. It is felt that only through such local groups can the ultimate goal be achieved. Until citizenship responsibility is assumed for supporting mental health measures, improvements in the care of the mentally ill will be but superficial reform at best. It is essential that the present public apathy and misinformation be dispelled.