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STUDENT VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT AND THE MANPOWER SHORTAGE
MILTON GREENBLATT; DAVID KANTOR
Am J Psychiatry 1962;118:809-814.
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Asst. Supt. and Director of Research and Laboratories, Massachusetts Mental Health Center; and Assoc. Clinical Prof. of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Project Director, "Study of Student Volunteers," NIMH Grant No. OM-233; also of OVR Grant No. RD-713; Research Assoc., Dept. of Social Relations, Harvard University.

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Abstract

Briefly described is the student volunteer movement initiated 7 years ago by undergraduates of Harvard and Radcliffe, which has organized services to the mentally ill at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Massachusetts, by mobilizing 9 colleges and universities in the Boston area, and altogether over 2,000 students. Two major forms of activities are prosecuted: ward work and case aid. The former concerns a variety of services to patients on the ward essentially in groups in which volunteers act as quasi-recreational and occupational therapists. The latter concerns one-to-one relationships between volunteer and patient in which the volunteer functioning as quasi-social worker attempts to aid patient in transition from hospital to community.The movement is characterized by intense eagerness of students to get to know the problems faced by the patient and the hospital, high motivation to do something about these, and considerable creativity in working out solutions. An example of the latter is the recent establishment of a co-operative halfway house in which students live together with chronic patients selected for discharge and rehabilitation in the community. This unique enterprise appears to have therapeutic assets somewhat different from the conventional halfway house and deserves serious consideration as a transitional model for similar facilities elsewhere.Undergraduate volunteering appears to be an effective means of recruiting promising young people into the mental health field. It has definite possibilities for at least partial relief of the serious manpower shortage in our mental hospitals.

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