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President Kennedy Pushes Mental Health Campaign

May 3, 1963 - President Kennedy said today he could think of nothing that “would be more important and lasting” than to mount a massive campaign to counter mental illness. In a White House ceremony marking the start of Mental Health Week, Mr. Kennedy expressed the hope that Congress would approve his mental health program this year and that the nation would “move on from there.” On Feb. 5, in a special message to Congress, the first by a President on this subject, Mr. Kennedy outlined a new approach to mental illness using “new medical, scientific, and social tools and insights.” He urged a comprehensive, long-range program in which Federal funds would stimulate state, local, and private action for a limited time. For mental illness, he recommended the construction of comprehensive community centers which would emphasize prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation at the local level instead of the present “reliance on the cold mercy of custodial isolation” in state institutions. Today, the President received a delegation from the National Association for Mental Health, including actress Joan Crawford (pictured), chairman of Stars for Mental Health.


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