The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980

The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 was a bill to improve the provision of mental health services and promote mental health throughout the United States. This bill provided marginalized populations-minorities, chronically mentally ill, elderly, children- to have access to crucial private and public mental health and support services. Jimmy Carter signed it on October 7, 1980.

What Did the Bill Do?

The bill defined “community mental health centers” as institutions that provided services to people residing or working in the mental health service area, with the focus on the severely mentally ill. The services from these health centers include:

1. inpatient, outpatient, and emergency services.

2. consultation and education services

3. assistance to courts and public agencies in placing people in treatment facilities

4. specialized treatment for children and the elderly

5. half-way house services

Community Mental Health Center Requirements

Each center was required to have a

1. Quality Assurance Program ( a program designated to make sure things are going smoothly)

2. A Medical Records Program

3. A Multidisciplinary Professional Advisory Board

4. An administrative unit was responsible for providing consultation and education services.

Funding Towards Rape Prevention and Control

The bill extended funds to Rape Prevention and Control. The Secretary of State was also authorized to provide grants to public and nonprofit entities for rape victim assistance.  These grants were to subsidize counseling, assistance in securing mental health, medical, legal, and social services, and projects to implement methods of rape prevention and victim assistance.

Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981

A year after it passed, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 dismantled it. The Omnibus Act was passed by the efforts of the Reagan Administration to reduce domestic spending. It ended federal funding to mental health community centers, placing the responsibility on state governments. The federal government gave smaller grants or block grants to individual states to fund mental health centers.

Unfortunately, with reduced federal support, block grants have fallen out of favor, and mental health services have been competing with other government programs for a share of state and local tax revenue.

Information courtesy from:

Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 and Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981.

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