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Discrimination and Racism in the History of Mental Health Care

July 6, 2020
By Kylie M. Smith, Ph.D.

People with mental illness have always been discriminated against. They have been denied full participation in society and labeled as dangerous and criminal. Many have been locked in institutions that acted more like prisons designed to punish than hospitals designed to treat.

In the 1960s, a series of federal legislation and court cases tried to end this discrimination. In the process, these cases revealed how deep the inequalities ran. And as bad as they were for anyone with mental illness, they were even worse for the most marginalized people in the system, African American men, women and children.

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