Back Wards to Back Streets

Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Patients

When the Supreme Court decreed that mental patients able to live safely in the community could not be kept in institutions against their will, it was hailed as a humane step forward. Patients were to return to their communities and receive supportive care. But that support never came through, and many ended up in back streets all over America.

This report follows some of these mental patients. We learn that profitable adult homes have sprung up which are often inadequate and resented by the community. Sometimes former patients are housed in nursing homes converted to locked psychiatric centers. Some communities resort to locking up the mentally ill in jail. Others leave them to wander the streets.

There are also examples of successful community treatment programs, which show that with money, staff, and care, patients can be cared for.

Related Subjects: 
Awards: 

American Psychological Association, 1987

Quotes: 

"It is an eloquent documentary that teaches much." - The New York Times
"This documentary is clear, well organized, well presented and consistently absorbing."
"’The Baltimore Sun

Back Wards to Back Streets

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