Developing a Documentation Plan
- identify the priority areas for attention in the next decade;
- provide specific goals that need to be achieved if we are to adequately document mental health in New York;
- identify the actions necessary to address the critical documentation gaps;
- identify partners, stakeholders, and participants who should be involved in this process.
- Provide an approach to documenting mental health that can guide the development of local and regional plans
The State Archives has prepared this guide mainly for three groups:
- Creators of Records: People and organizations those who are or have been involved with mental health issues, services, and experiences. The records they create, as part of their daily life and or in the course of their work, may have long-term historical value. If you are a recipient of services, provide services or affiliated with an organization, business, or government active in mental health issues, it may well be that you generate records that are of long-term historical value and should be saved in an accessible archives when you or your organization no longer needs them.
- Custodians of Records: Organizations that maintain or collect historically valuable records and make them available to the public for research. If you are affiliated with a government, medical facility, historical society, museum, library, or archives, it may make sense for you to begin collecting records related to mental health. This collecting focus can be of great benefit to your organization and your community.
- Users of Records: Individuals who use historical records in the course of their lives and work and have an interest in preserving and making accessible the documentation of mental health. Mental Health providers, researchers, advocacy groups, policy-makers, and citizens active in this field as well as scholars, teachers, and students are typical users of mental health documentation.
This plan focuses on documenting experiences, treatment, and issues relating to mental health in New York State. It does not encompass mental retardation and substance abuse; although these are closely related topics, they have different approaches to diagnosis and treatment, and their inclusion would have created a project of unmanageable scope. The plan generally approaches mental health from a statewide perspective. However, certain regions of New York have advanced innovative treatments or policies that merit particular attention. The plan will focus on 19th as well as 20th century activity, with an emphasis on capturing information from the World War II era to the present. This period evidenced highly significant changes in mental health activity, and the resulting records are more likely to still exist intact within organizations, groups, or individual ownership.
Within the parameters of mental health, there are many topics, issues, events, and individuals that could be the subject of documentation efforts. Realistically, not everything can be documented, nor should it be. Instead, we have attempted to prioritize those topics within mental health in New York that are most important to document either because:
- they had major impact or influence;
- they are unique or innovative in the field;
- they are illustrative of common experience;
- they affected or involved a wide number of individuals; or
- they were significant for a considerable period of time.