UCL Health Humanities Centre/British Psychological Society History of the Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series

Thursday 29 October 2015
Dr. Matthew Smith (University of Strathclyde)
Getting on in Gotham: Preventing Mental Illness in New York City, 1945-1980


In 1962, the authors of the Mental Health in the Metropolis: The Midtown Manhattan Project made a startling claim: fewer than 1 in 5 (18.5%) Manhattanites were in good mental health. Although a third of the population was believed to suffer only from mild symptoms, a quarter were believed to be incapacitated by their mental health problems. Such figures merely underlined the argument made by many American psychiatrists following the Second World War: that mental illness was rife in American society and that the only way to stop its spread was to undertake preventive action. Responding positively to this rhetoric was President Kennedy who a year later passed the Community Mental Health Act, which had prevention at its core. By 1980, however, preventive psychiatry was on the wane, to be eclipsed by psychopharmacology. This paper examines how preventive approaches to mental illness were conceptualised and introduced in New York City, paying particular attention to the perceived relationship between the urban environment and mental health.
Organiser: Professor Sonu Shamdasani (UCL)
Time: 6.15pm to 7.45 pm (note different time).

Location: (note different location): Seminar Room 11, Institute of Advanced Studies, 1st Floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building, University College London, Gower Street. 
Directions: From the front gates to the main UCL campus Gower Street, head diagonally across the quad and enter. Turn right, and go up the stairs or lift to the first floor. Take the corridor to the left. Room 11 is on the right hand side.