Treatment of Mental Illness in the 1800s By: Sally Attar and Natalia Romero
What is a mental illness? A mental illness is a disorder in the brain caused by a chemical imbalance that causes a person to function differently. A mental illness can be caused either by an injury or through genetics. Examples of mental illnesses are schizophrenia, bipolar, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, etc.
<ul><li>In the 1800s, mental illnesses were not taken very seriously </li></ul><ul><li>Before mental hospitals opened, a person with a mental illness was usually isolated from others and had to stay home at all times </li></ul><ul><li>People who had a family member with a mental illness denied the fact </li></ul><ul><li>In the mid-1800s, Benjamin Rush and Dorothea Dix took the first steps towards finding a treatment for the mentally ill by researching the causes </li></ul><ul><li>Dorothea Dix greatly affected the way people with mental illnesses were treated; she observed the way they were housed with criminals and the way they were often beaten </li></ul>
<ul><li>By the mid-1800s, the first few hospitals for the mentally ill were built and these hospitals became home for thousands of diagnosed people </li></ul>
<ul><li>At this point in time, the population believed that the mentally ill were being treated with high-quality medical support; little did they know this was only the image portrayed from outside the box </li></ul><ul><li>A New York World Reporter, Nellie Bly, decided one day to disguise herself as a mentally ill person in order to view the treatment from a patients point of view </li></ul><ul><li>According to Bly, it was over-crowded and defeated the purpose of trying to give extra attention to those in need </li></ul><ul><li>She decided to publicize the fact that America needed a better health care system to support the mentally ill </li></ul>
<ul><li>The routine of one’s life with a mental illness was practically the same for each individual </li></ul><ul><li>The person would be put into the mental hospital, where they would be given food and medication </li></ul><ul><li>Basically, they would stay in the same building for the rest of their lives, following the same routine each and everyday </li></ul>
<ul><li>By the late 1800s, a German scientist, Emil Kraepelin, began researching the different kinds of mental illnesses, in order to begin finding a treatment for each </li></ul><ul><li>The issue of mental illnesses was taken more seriously at this point in time, and it became known that a mental illness can be passed through genetics, as opposed to being caused by an injury </li></ul>
So how was treatment of mental illness in the 1800s? <ul><li>In the early 1800s, people diagnosed with a mental illness were literally locked up at home and isolated from the outside world </li></ul><ul><li>By the mid-1800s, a few scientists decide to take action about the cruel way the mentally ill were treated </li></ul><ul><li>During the mid-1800s America also opened several hospitals for the ill; however these hospitals did not do its patients much of a favour due to the poor treatment towards the patients </li></ul>
<ul><li>By the time the late 1800s came, treatment of the mentally ill had greatly improved </li></ul><ul><li>However, the patients in the hospital were still not given much freedom, and had the same daily routine practically everyday for the rest of their lives </li></ul><ul><li>So what really changed the medical system offered for the mentally ill? </li></ul>
The answer to that question is simple… <ul><li>In 1963, Congress passed an Act called the Community Mental Health Centers Act </li></ul><ul><li>After this Act, states began receiving federal and state support to offer mental health treatment </li></ul>
<ul><li>Nowadays, someone with a mental illness is treated with respect, just like every other person, because, in fact, we are all equal </li></ul>Now it’s time for some questions to see how well you were really listening…
In the early 1800s, a scientist by the name of Nellie Bly began researching about mental illnesses and possible treatments. True or False?
In the mid-1800s, what was the daily routine of a typical patient with a mental illness?
Thank you for listening, we hope you learned something useful.