In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mental Health Services from 1990 to 2023

  • Introduction
  • Setting the Context
  • Epidemiology of Mental Health Services
  • Inpatient and Community-Based Services
  • Integrated Care
  • Movement toward Recovery and Self-Determination of Care
  • Assessing Outcomes and Systems Effects
  • Health Insurance Coverage and Financing of Care
  • Looking toward the Future

Social Work Mental Health Services from 1990 to 2023
Ronald Manderscheid, Amy Ward
  • LAST REVIEWED: 19 April 2024
  • LAST MODIFIED: 19 April 2024
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0332


Mental health services in the United States have changed dramatically over the past century. At that time, only inpatient services were generally available, principally through state mental hospitals. In the intervening period, a community-based mental health system has been developed that runs in parallel with inpatient services but also allows for a much broader continuum of care. This community-based system includes brief psychotherapy, pharmacology, other forms of ambulatory care, and short-term residential care. The ongoing transition from inpatient to community-based mental health services has not been without internal controversies, particularly the issues surrounding the availability and use of inpatient care for community programs. The purpose of this bibliography is to examine US mental health services and the system that embeds them.

Setting the Context

The topic of mental health services is complex. Therefore, a framework is needed to present work on several major topics in this field. Manderscheid and Ward 2022 presents a particularly useful framework for this purpose. This framework has been employed below as a framework for this presentation. Manderscheid 2003 presents a useful overview of the mental health service field at the time of the Millennium, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2023 provides a useful discussion of mental health for a general audience.

  • Manderscheid, R. W. 2003. Mental health in a social context. Cosmos 2002–2003 12:49–52.

    This article provides an overview of the mental health field at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Particular attention is paid to new developments that were occurring in the field at that time and their likely future trends.

  • Manderscheid, R., and A. Ward. 2022. United States: The development of integrated mental health policy. In Research handbook on mental health policy. Edited by C. Hudson, 272–285. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.

    DOI: 10.4337/9781800372788.00029

    This article recommends an integrated approach to mental health policy. The areas to be integrated are the headers employed in the following bibliography. These perspectives have been selected to reflect the key policy domains of concern in the mental health field, including the epidemiology of mental health services, inpatient and community-based services, integrated care, the movement toward recovery and self-directed care, assessing outcomes and systems effects, and insurance coverage and financing.

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2023. What Is Mental Health?. Rockville, MD: SAMHSA.

    This document describes the distinct types of mental health conditions that people can experience and the early warning signs and symptoms for these conditions. It also provides tips for living well with a mental health condition and a resource list for further reading.

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