Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Kenneth DeBono




mental illness, stigma, treatment, healthcare, law


This thesis contains the exploration of mental illness starting with how mental illness is defined today. The history of mental illness in America reveals a gross neglect of those afflicted with “madness,” as it was usually referred to. This thesis will focus on the treatment of the mentally ill from the 1900s to present day. There is an inherent stigma attached to mental illness and as modern and as civilized as the United States claims to be, it should be noted that mental illness is still as much taboo even today, rife with stories of the mentally ill being constantly stigmatized for their illness. This paper will also focus on the representation of mental illness in the legal system and how the mentally ill are viewed through the lens of the law, with specific insight into the treatment of mental illness with respect to law and public policy in the United States from the 1900s to today. There will be a further discussion of potential healthcare and legal reforms that may be instantiated to improve treatment of the mentally ill today so that they may live to see a better tomorrow for themselves.