Library Collections: Document: Full Text

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Creator: Frank L. Wright, Jr. (author)
Date: 1947
Publisher: National Mental Health Foundation, Inc.
Source: Available at selected libraries
Figures From This Artifact: Figure 2  Figure 3  Figure 4  Figure 5  Figure 6  Figure 7  Figure 8  Figure 9  Figure 10  Figure 11  Figure 12  Figure 13  Figure 14  Figure 15  Figure 16  Figure 17

Previous Page   Next Page   All Pages 

Page 44:


Dispelling public ignorance is equally important in controlling mental disease. Therefore, let's learn more. Let's not be ignorant about what goes on behind those walls which keep six hundred thousand of our fellow-citizens out of sight, out of mind. Let's be conversant with the most recent medical knowledge about mental illness, its causes, treatment and prevention. Let's break down false ideas about mental illness and dispel the stigma attached to it.


The best learning always results from direct observation, from experience. Therefore, an important step in learning more about mental illness is to visit mental hospitals. A view of the outside of the buildings or an interview with the superintendent will be worthwhile, but not enough. In order to get the most information out of a visit to a mental hospital, you should visit the wards and talk with the patients, doctors, nurses and attendants. Even then, remember that you have seen the hospital only on "good behavior." A brief guide for such a visit is What to Look for in a Mental Hospital, available for five cents from the National Mental Health Foundation, 1520 Race Street, Philadelphia 2, Pennsylvania.


Special instructional visits to mental hospitals can often be arranged. Groups of students, ministers, social workers, and teachers make such visits to hospitals regularly. Any group of citizens might ask a nearby hospital to prepare an instructional visit in the course of which the types of mental illness and methods of treatment would be demonstrated and explained.


Visits to patients whom you know, discussions with families of mental patients, and all the ways of serving suggested in the next section are other means of learning through experience, of coming to understand the problem of mental illness through first-hand observation.


Reading and listening are additional methods by which we can learn more. Appendix II lists books for further reading. Some of these are as easy to read as the latest best-seller. In fact, several best-sellers (such as The Snake Pit, by Mary Jane Ward) are included in the list because they give accurate, interesting information about mental hospitals and mental patients.


Speakers who can bring interesting messages from those who are "out of sight, out of mind" can be found in every community. Mental hospitals themselves are the best sources, of course. Many doctors, social workers, and administrators consider it a privilege to talk to any interested group about the problems of the mentally ill. In addition, college professors, ministers, general practitioners, judges, and community workers often have valuable information to give about mental diseases. The reports of former patients and relatives of patients are often worth hearing also.


If there is a local mental health group in your community, it may have suggestions for speakers and reading material. Since most local groups carry on an educational program, joining one is an effective way of learning more about the problems of the mentally ill. Information about speakers in your own community and about local mental health organizations near you may be secured from the National Mental Health Foundation.


Let's Serve More


Knowledge is not enough. In fact, knowledge is useless until it is put to work. We must not only learn more about the problems of the mentally ill -- we must do more about them. There is enough needing to be done that all of us can find some way to be of assistance to the mentally ill, by serving more, giving more and influencing more.


Opportunities for service to the mentally ill are everywhere available. In the first place, there is scarcely a mental hospital in the country which has enough employees to give proper care to its patients. Most mental hospitals have immediate openings for doctors, nurses, attendants, social workers, therapists and farm and kitchen employees. Some of these positions require much training and experience; others require only a sympathetic willingness to serve and to learn.


In addition to these immediate openings, there is a long-range need for trained personnel -- a need which ought to challenge all young people looking for a career. In order to come up to standards of the American Psychiatric Association, mental hospitals in the United States need 5,500 more doctors, 14,000 more registered nurses, and 12,000 more trained attendants and practical nurses. Even these standards are not ideal; they are only adequate, and will certainly rise in coming years. For anyone interested in a medical vocation, the psychiatric field offers the greatest possible opportunity for service and advancement.


For those not interested in permanent work in mental hospitals, there are growing opportunities to serve the mentally ill in special, short-term work. The American Friends Service Committee, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Unitarian Service Committee, and the Brethrens Service Committee have established service units in several mental hospitals. Persons may enroll in these units for a few months, for a summer, or for a year. They receive the same pay as regular employees and work as attendants, recreational aides, or nurses' aides. Other church groups and several colleges and seminaries are considering opening similar units in the near future. In addition, the Council for Clinical Training of theological students operates comparable units for men and women preparing for the ministry.

Previous Page   Next Page

Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11  12  13  14  15  16  17  18  19  20  21  22  23  24  25  26  27  28  29  30  31  32  33  34  35  36  37  38  39  40  41  42  43  44  45  46  47  48  49  50    All Pages