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THE FOLLOW-UP OF DISCHARGED MENTAL PATIENTS BY THE PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE
FLORENCE A. BEASLEY; CLAIRE S. CALLAWAY; TRAWICK H. STUBBS
Am J Psychiatry 1960;116:834-837.
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Georgia Dept. of Public Health, Atlanta, Ga.

Milledgeville State Hospital, Milledgeville, Ga.

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Abstract

The Georgia Department of Public Health, in cooperation with the Milledgeville State Hospital,4 initiated a program of supportive services by public health nurses to mental hospital patients and their families in January, 1953. This program was not limited to the discharged patient, but included the patient and family at the time of commitment, during the patient's hospitalization, and after discharge to the community. At the end of 2 years as a pilot project, the program was evaluated and this activity included as a part of the generalized public health nursing program state-wide. It is now operating in 49 of the state's 159 counties.A second program is presently being developed as a part of a state-aid program for intensive treatment of mentally ill patients in general hospitals. Essentially the same kinds of supportive services are offered to patients and families by the public health nurses.These programs are ways of applying the current theoretical emphasis that emotional illness involves not just individuals, but situations and relationships in families and communities.As modern public health programs seek to deal seriously with the problem of mental illness, a balance must be maintained between services to the sick and preventive and health promoting activities for total populations. The present program of the Georgia Department of Public Health, overlapping both areas, offers opportunity for continuing development of public health programs on a sound basis of experience which bridges gaps between hospital and community.The development of newer programs and the involvement of public health nurses in a broader scope of health services raises many questions for those interested in the preparation of future public health nurses as well as the continuing education of those currently employed.We believe this type program, modified to fit the special situation in each state, will be an important element in the total resources for offering follow-up services to the mentally ill.

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