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Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill

Deinstitutionalization refers to releasing a mentally or physically handicapped person from an institution whose main purpose was to provide treatment into a community with the intent of providing services through the community under the supervision of health-care professionals. There have been many positive outcomes from deinstitutionalization for both the patients and society but there have also been many drawbacks of deinstitutionalization.

Deinstitutionalization is a process which affects the community as a whole and there are many procedures that must be followed in order to see this process follow through successfully (Watnik, 2001).

The deinstitutionalization process began in the late 1950’s, early 1960’s. Facilities were financially liable for patients while they were committed, but were able to modify the burden to the federal government by discharging them.

A lot of our society believes that the deinstitutionalization process was simply created because of the facilities’ inadequacy of treatment to their patients. Motivated by a concern for the civil rights of patients, deinstitutionalization focused on more rigorous standards for civil commitment and created practical safeguard processes, such as the right to treatment in the least preventive atmosphere (Watnik, 2001).

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New York dealt with deinstitutionalization in the wrong ways from the beginning.

For instance, New York was the only state prior to 1994 that had limitations specifically prohibiting outpatient commitment. In 1994, the legislation passed the Bellevue Pilot Program which was established to helping the deinstitutionalization process. In 1999, New York Governor George Pataki, created Kendra’s Law which was a law that was influenced by the increase rise of mentally unstable individuals hurting and killing other people randomly.

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Kendra’s Law allows particular individuals (such as family members) to petition the court to obtain an order for a mentally ill person to receive outpatient treatment if that person meets detailed and definite criteria (Watnik, 2001). Kendra’s Law helps keep track of mentally ill people when they are discharged from any mental or correction facility so that these individuals can better be assisted in locating an outpatient program that suits their needs.

In order for New York to combat the ongoing social issues such as homelessness, crime and the spread of communicable diseases, the state has established disbursement prospectuses that include programs and activities provided in community settings. Some of these programs include mental health centers, outpatient clinics, partial care organizations, self-assured community treatment and support programs, consumer-run programs and services provided by state hospitals off hospital grounds. Total community expenses and accomplishments are evaluated by observing residential and nonresidential services.

Kendra’s law in addition to the community programs, also helps reach out to the mentally ill community by giving them ongoing support and assistance to helping control their illnesses and keep out of trouble (Watnik, 2001). After reading this article, I found that New York is missing a lot of key point in establishing a deinstitutionalization process. For starters, I believe that there should be stricter laws and regulations directed to mentally unstable individuals that are aimed at encouraging them to remain in outpatient treatment, even if they believe they do not need it.

I also think that our society needs to establish more programs aimed at helping these individuals get on their feet financially, emotionally, and physically. Too many people think that they are “cured” and wind up hurting or killing innocent by passers and this would just be a safe precaution to helping keep our communities safe.

Cite this page

Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill. (2018, Sep 27). Retrieved from

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