The National Council of Community Behavioral Health has just issued a poignant five minute video, entitled “The Other Side”, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act of 1963.The video features several individuals with psychiatric disabilities, including former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, describing their own recovery journeys and reassuring all of the hope which can get someone in recovery to “the other side”. Of special note to families in the maelstrom of mental illness is the film’s several references to the importance of families to the recovery of loved ones.
(As an historical note, The Community Mental Health Act legislation, signed by President Kennedy, contributed (in conjunction with advances in psychiatric medications and the ideals of the Civil Rights movement) to the extensive deinstitutionalization of state mental hospitals around the country in the 1960s. The Act marked an important step towards mental health system reform, although it ultimately met with only mixed success. Insufficient funding and preparation of community based services undermined the intent of deinstitutionalization, causing tens of thousands of individuals with psychiatric disabilities upon discharge to become homeless and disconnected from services and care over the subsequent period of two decades.)