Mental Health Systems Act of 1980

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Mental Health Systems Act of 1980
Great Seal of the United States
Long titleA bill to improve the provision of mental health services and otherwise promote mental health throughout the United States; and for other purposes.
Acronyms (colloquial)MHSA
Enacted bythe 96th United States Congress
Public lawPub.L. 96-398
Acts amendedCommunity Mental Health Centers Act, Public Health Service Act, Social Security Act
Titles amended42
U.S.C. sections created42 U.S.C. §§ 94019523
U.S.C. sections amended42 U.S.C. § 210, § 225a, § 242a, § 300m, § 1396b, § 2689
Legislative history

The Mental Health Systems Act of 1980 (MHSA) was United States legislation signed by President Jimmy Carter which provided grants to community mental health centers. In 1981 President Ronald Reagan, who had made major efforts during his Governorship to reduce funding and enlistment for California mental institutions, pushed a political effort through the U.S. Congress to repeal most of MHSA.[1] The MHSA was considered landmark legislation in mental health care policy.


Coinciding with a movement during the 1970s for rehabilitation of people with severe mental illnesses, the Mental Health Systems Act supported and financed community mental health support systems, which coordinated general health care, mental health care, and social support services.[2] The law followed the 1978 Report of the President's Commission on Mental Health, which made recommendations for improving mental health care in the United States. While some concerns existed about the methodology followed by the President's Committee, the report served as the foundation for the MHSA, which in turn was seen as landmark legislation in U.S. mental health policy.[3]

The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, signed by President Ronald Reagan on August 13, 1981, repealed most of the MHSA. The Patients' Bill of Rights, section 501, was not repealed; per Congressional record, the Congress felt that state provisions were sufficient and section 501 served as a recommendation to states to review and refine existing policies.[4]

See also[edit]

Lanterman–Petris–Short Act


  1. ^ Ford, Matt (June 8, 2015). "Cook County Jail, America's Largest Mental Hospital is a Jail". The Atlantic. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  2. ^ Goldman, H. H.; Morrissey, J. P.; Ridgely, M. S.; Frank, R. G.; Newman, S. J.; Kennedy, C. (August 1992). "Lessons on the program on chronic mental illness" (PDF). Health Affairs. 11 (3): 51–68. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.11.3.51. PMID 1398453. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  3. ^ Thomas, Alexander (1998). "Ronald Reagan and the Commitment of the Mentally Ill: Capital, Interest Groups, and the Eclipse of Social Policy". Electronic Journal of Sociology. 3 (4).
  4. ^ Lyon-Levine, Martha; Levine, Martin; Zusman, Jack (March 1985). "Developments in Patients' Bill of Rights Since the Mental Health Systems Act" (PDF). Mental and Physical Disability Law Reporter. 9 (2). Retrieved September 13, 2015.

Further reading[edit]

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