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Letter to Secretary Ribicoff Concerning the Role of the Federal Government in the Field of Mental Health.

December 01, 1961

Dear Mr. Secretary:

As you know, the Report of the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health represents a significant assessment of the magnitude of the mental health problem with which .we are confronted. As such, it deserves the close attention of all those responsible for the formulation of public policy in this area.

For this reason, I would like you to analyze the Report with a view to developing courses of action which might be appropriate for the Federal Government. I am also asking the Secretary of Labor and the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs to join with you in this undertaking and to provide assistance in the consideration of the Report and the formulation of possible courses of action.

In developing your proposals, I believe careful attention should be given to the following specific questions:

1. What should be the Federal role in the mental health field and what responsibility should remain with the States, localities, and private groups?

2. If broadened Federal activity is warranted, through what channels should it be directed?

3. What emphasis should be given to Federal activity in the mental health field in relation to support for more general health programs?

4. What rate of expansion in public programs for mental health services and search is consistent with the present and prospective supply of trained manpower?

5. In the mental health field, should relatively greater encouragement be given to strengthening institutional services or non-institutional programs, including means for bringing the cost of non-institutional services within the financial means of a larger number of people?

These questions involve matters of long-standing interest and concern to many parts of the executive branch. I am therefore asking representatives of the Council of Economic Advisers and the Bureau of the Budget to assist you in your consideration of the Report and the development of your proposals.



Note: The Joint Commission's report is entitled "Action for Mental Health" (Basic Books, Inc., New York City, 1961, 338 pp.).

John F. Kennedy, Letter to Secretary Ribicoff Concerning the Role of the Federal Government in the Field of Mental Health. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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