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EDUCATION AND INTERPRETATION Two Essentials in a Mental Hygiene Program
George K. Pratt
Am J Psychiatry 1924;80:463-474.
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Massachusetts Society for Mental Hygiene, 5 Joy Street, Boston

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Abstract

1. Mental hygiene believes it possesses a commodity, the sale and use of which will help in lightening some of the social, health, and economic burdens of every community.2. The educational portion of a mental hygiene program must be looked on in terms of a commercial problem.3. Before this commodity can secure public acceptance, a vigorous campaign of education and interpretation must be undertaken. The idea of mental health must be thoroughly sold before its principles can be practically applied through clinical measures.4. In the process of "selling" mental hygiene to the lay public a disregard for the necessity of getting down to the level of understanding of the average citizen will retard progress. It has been found that even when addressing such professional groups as general physicians, nurses, and college graduates, one must not take for granted any degree of previous knowledge of the subject. This may sound dogmatic but a not inextensive experience in such work confirms this view.5. Not only is education a prerequisite for "selling" mental health, but a proper interpretation of the principles involved must go hand in hand with enlightenment.6. The best equipped mental clinic available cannot function to capacity until a clientele is established and until the public knows what it is for, what kinds of cases it treats, and why they should not stigmatize or be suspicious of its purpose. This preparatory work can only be accomplished through an intensive educational campaign, preferably by a neutral, private, and unbiased agency.7. Methods of education include use of:(a) Lectures.(b) Instruction courses.(c) Literature.(d) Exhibits.(e) Legislation.

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