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April 25, 1959


JAMA. 1959;169(17):2033. doi:10.1001/jama.1959.03000340065018

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The observation of Mental Health Week once again reminds us of one of the largest public health problems confronting the United States— mental illness. While the exact incidence of emotional disorders is not known, the rejection and discharge figures for psychiatric disorders in the armed forces in World War II, the current rates of hospitalization for the mentally ill and retarded, and the problems of alcoholism, narcotic addiction, juvenile delinquency, and broken marriages give some indication of how large the problem is. Physicians in general practice and internal medicine repeatedly have estimated that one-third to onehalf of the patients they see have disorders which are primarily psychogenic or which are complicated by emotional factors.

The level of care of many patients in mental institutions is indeed low. It is reported that in some mental institutions with over 1,000 patients there is but one psychiatrist to provide treatment. The disproportion between

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