Date of Award

Spring 1981

Document Type




First Advisor

Jo-Anne Scott

Second Advisor

Margaret Sammick

Third Advisor

Rev. Jeremiah Sullivan


In 1963, under President John F. Kennedy, federal legislation was passed toward developing new methods to treat the adult mentally ill in terms of decreasing the physical size of state hospitals, improving their resources, and extending services into the community. As a result, community after-care facilities were designed to continue the treatment of the de-institution alized conditionally released patient. In this program a patient may move easily from one kind of treatment to another as his/her needs change. This is called "continuity-of-care" and ? represents a key concept of the mental health program. In the late 1970's national attention was again directed toward the needs of the mentally ill within the community setting. In the 1978 publication of the Report of the President's Commission on Mental Health, the principle recommendation of the commission called for the establishment of a "new federal grant program for community mental health services to encourage the creation of necessary services where they are inadequate and increase the flexibility of communities in planning 3 a comprehensive network of services.

The report recommends that in the future mental health funding priorities be given to unserved and underserved areas; services for children, adolescents and the elderly; and specialized services for racial and ethnic minority groups and for the chronically mentally ill population. The report calls for further phasing down 4 efforts of state hospitals. The Montana Department of Institutions began a program of de-institutionalization of mentally ill civilly committed patients from Warm Springs State Hospital. Civil commitment of a mentally ill patient is a voluntary or involuntary placement of the patient into a restrictive environment so as not to be a danger to themselves or to others. This placement may be by court order. This program of de-institutionalization included transferring and relocating patients to nursing homes, group homes, and private residences. These patients were under the direct control and custody of the 5 Department of Institutions pursuant to Court order. Since 1975, over 608 patients have been de-institutionalized and are cared for in numerous facilities located throughout the state. These patients are involuntary civilly committed persons, and they are restrained in their free movement, and have been deprived of many constitutional guarantees because of their status as civilly committed g mentally ill patients.