Reclaiming the community: The strengths perspective and deinstitutionalization


In the past decade, concern for the plight of severely mentally ill people has cen- tered on such issues as mental illness among the homeless population, the burden placed on families who care for ill loved ones, and the impoverished quality of life experienced by those who attempt to survive on their own. Some have called fora rethinking of the aban- donment of the. asylum and a relax- ation of civil commitment laws, while others have advocated for increasing community-based services that specifi- cally target severely mentally ill people. This article discusses these issues and considers how the response to severe mental illness has overrelied on pathol- ogy-based models of helping. The strengths perspective provides an alter- native. Although severe mental illness presents a formidable obstacle to the afflicted, mentally challenged individu- als have strengths and abilities that can be tapped to foster their continued integration incommunity settings. This adjustment is best conducted through the use of naturally occurring commu- nity resources rather than specialized, segregated programs. © 1992 by the National Association of Social Workers, Inc.



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Social Work (United States)