The growing interest of the researchers to the issues of mental health and its impact upon the overall state of society, and its vulnerable strata in particular, has sparked a number of studies on the quantitative and social dimensions of mental disorders among the U.S. population. Within the framework of this paper, the following aspects are to be examined:
• The statistical dimension of mental disorders in the U.S. A special interest shall be paid to the spread of mental disorders among socially vulnerable and disadvantaged groups;
• The forms of Federal, state, and private entities involvement with the provision of medical aid to mentally handicapped persons;
• The correlation (or lack thereof) between the measures taken by the state and non-state institutions and the betterment of conditions of mentally handicapped persons;
• The examination of most widespread methods and forms of mental disorder recovery and the discussion of their comparative efficiencies.
For the purposes of the study, the Pearson Chi-Square Ratio statistical technique shall be used, with the aim to verify the level of likelihood between the outcomes found in the course of empirical investigation. For the complete discussion of the Pearson method, see Munro, 2005, p.119.
Mental Disorders in the U.S.: A Brief History of Research Studies
According to Foucault (1991), the methods of measuring the numbers of mental disorders had existed since the late 18th century in the context of the growth of the institutional structure aimed at provision of “governmentality”, i.e.”the ensemble.. of calculations and tactics that allow the exercise of this…power, which has…as its essential technical means apparatuses of security” (1991, p.102). Consequently, as “governmentality” necessitated the establishment of the wide-ranged and extensive body of statistical data, the collection of numerical information on the state of potentially ‘dangerous’ social classes and other similar groups of population became an important part of emerging social sciences (Busfield, 2011, p.41).
The U.S. mental patient statistics may thus be viewed as one of the instruments of exercising the abovementioned form of social power. The first significant sociological survey of numbers of mental patients was conducted as late as 1939, when R. Faris and W. Dunham published their seminal study, Mental disorders in urban areas. The main focus of this study was aimed at quantifying the cases of psychotic disorders among the patients in one of Chicago’s ward hospitals for the period of 1931 to 1939. The conclusions reached by the authors pointed at high level of correlation between the admission rates for schizophrenia and the relative poverty rate of a given neighborhood. Thus, a conclusion on the social determinants of schizophrenia was reached (Faris and Dunham, 1939).
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