By Phyllis Vine

mental health
An original poster by Rachael Romero, circa 1978, for the Mental Patients Liberation Movement, printed by the San Francisco Poster Brigade.

This year has brought much good news for long-time followers of mental health reform.

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan included billions for the training of mental health professionals, and community-based programs. ARP also includes $122 billion for teachers and students suffering from the pandemic’s imposition of isolation stress, and untoward family challenges. And the 45 percent increase in calls to 988—the new mental health and suicide preventions crisis line—confirms a need.

The proposals the Biden administration is enacting might seem like they were inevitable, but that was hardly the case 50 years ago when activists were challenging state commitment laws, forced treatments with institutional warehousing, or laws permitting overt discrimination. None of these changes would be possible without decades of work by those in the activist community.

Yes: decades. The simple truth is that the changes were incremental…

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Ms. Magazine is a partner of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality.

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