Documentation Priority Descriptions and Potential Records
The issue:In our society where mental health issues have been poorly understood, its affects have often been felt powerfully by the families, friends, and coworkers of people with psychiatric histories. Documentation of such experiences may be found in some patient case files, family correspondence with mental health service providers, or personal correspondence and diaries, but generally such experiences have not been deliberately or consistently recorded or collected. Therefore, these voices, too, are virtually silent in the historical record.
Goal: To document organizations and groups that explicitly address issues for families
- Organizations and groups created by and/or for families of people with psychiatric histories
- Programs for families within broader mental health organizations
Goal: To document families experiences and perspectives found in records created for other purposes.
- Case histories
- Administrative correspondence with service providers, law enforcement, or other agencies
- Families personal papers
- Letters to the editor or newspaper articles
The State Archives search for publicly available mental health documentation uncovered few if any records that address the experiences of families. The correspondence files of the directors of state psychiatric centers and state hospitals, however, frequently contain letters from patients relatives.
Where to look for more records (preliminary suggestions only)
- Private mental health service providers, advocacy organizations, and self-help groups correspondence files.
- Organizations and support groups, statewide and local, for families of people with psychiatric diagnoses.
- Newspaper accounts and letters to the editor