The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980

Katherine Bell


The Mental Health Systems Act (MHSA) of 1980 was intended to be a necessary safety net for those individuals who were unable to obtain mental health services without local facilities available to them. There was a strong groundwork in place for it to be effective, from the Public Health Service Act of 1944 to the Community Mental Health Act of 1963, as well as many champions within Congress and amongst the Kennedy family. However, the 1980 election brought in a change of power and a sitting president with a history of cutting funds for mental health services. The signing of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation of 1981 quickly and efficiently reduced the capacity of the MHSA to provide services to those who needed them.

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