TO the objective observer of the mental health scene, one of its more prominent characteristics is the ever-changing terminology which is used to describe our programs and facilities. In reflecting, for example, upon the name of inpatient facilities over the past century, it is striking how we have moved from such appellations as insane asylum, retreat, psychopathic hospital, and mental hospital to the current term of community mental health center. This newest term is undoubtedly the most voguish at the present time, and in its more general sense has become the subject of considerable controversy regarding whether the change represents positive progress or is merely euphemistic in nature.
Community mental health's meaning, history, and characteristics are beclouded with the ambiguity created by such factors as varied conceptual theories, social desirability, bandwagon effects, funding opportunities, and issues of professional domain. From the
Schulberg HC, Baker F. Varied Attitudes to Community Mental Health. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;17(6):658-663. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730300018004