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Am Psychol. 1989 Aug;44(8):1133-7.

Public and private responsibility for mental health services.


Relative to public services, private sector corporate mental health care has significantly increased since the late 1960s. The many tensions encountered in assigning public and private responsibility for mental health service give rise to significant value-laden questions for psychologists. These questions go to the heart of community mental health, deinstitutionalization, mental health policy development and evaluation, and many other areas in which psychologists are playing major roles. The public-private issue should be understood historically, from the twin vantage points of developments in general medicine and in mental health. Among the many public interest and public policy matters psychologists and others concerned with mental health should address are the emergence of corporate chains; the nature, cost, and quality of private sector services; the compatibility of profit motivation and the motivation to provide care; and patient selection issues (e.g., cream-skimming). Public and private cooperation and planning are certainly in order if the public interest is to be served in addressing the nation's mental health problems.

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