Deinstitutionalization: avoiding the disasters of the past

Hosp Community Psychiatry. 1979 Sep;30(9):621-4. doi: 10.1176/ps.30.9.621.


The reasons for the problems created by deinstitutionalization have only recently become clear; they include a lack of consensus about the movement, no real testing of its philosophic bases, the lack of planning for alternative facilities and services (especially for a population with notable social and cognitive deficits), and the inadequacies of the mental health delivery system in general. Providing care for the chronically ill and preparing for future deinstitutionalization means that the issue must be reconceptualized not as one of where people should be housed but as the need to provide the full range of treatments and services that are available in a total institution. Attitudinal and institutional biases and discriminatory practices must be combated, planning for community facilities and services must be improved, and funding for both institutional and community services must be provided during the phasing down of institutional services. The author proposes a set of ten commandments or basic rules to guide future deinstitutionalization activities.

MeSH terms

  • Community Mental Health Services / organization & administration
  • Community Mental Health Services / supply & distribution
  • Deinstitutionalization / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Hospitals, State / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Public Opinion
  • United States