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During the 1960s and 1970s, the Community Mental Health movement greatly expanded the availability of behavioral health services for children and adults. However, the repeal of the federal Mental Health Systems Act during the 1980s resulted in sharp decreases in funding to support behavioral health services. The erosion of the community behavioral health system forced persons with mental health and addictive disorders into other systems such as criminal justice, juvenile justice, primary care, and education where they may or may not obtain needed services. This fragmented system of behavioral health services presents numerous challenges to the quality of care. The Department of Mental Health Law and Policy and the Department of Criminology have a long-standing commitment to the study of complex issues that are at the intersection of behavioral health services and the justice system. The Law and Policy Initiative is focused on finding innovative strategies and enhancing public policy to better serve individuals diagnosed with behavioral health problems.
This initiative was launched by the establishment of the de la Parte Endowed Law and Policy Fund to support research and education related to mental health law and policy.