I am happy to report to you that the U.S. Congress has appropriated the highest sum in history for the National Institute
of Mental Health for the fiscal year which began on July 1, 1954. The Institute has been allotted $14,147,500, an increase
of $2,052,500 over last year's figure.
Both Houses of Congress, in appropriating increased monies for the activities of the Institute, showed a keen awareness of
the prime need for both increased research upon mental illness and greatly accelerated training programs for psychiatric personnel.
For example, the Senate Committee on Appropriations explained its increase over the Administration budget figure in these
words in its report to the full Senate:
"Such an increase recognizes that the ultimate goal, sought under these activities can only be achieved by a combination
of increased manpower and an increased intensity of research activity. Training is particularly stressed in this appropriation
since despite the training program sponsored by this Institute for 7 years, the need for specially trained personnel continues
to increase at a rapid rate. The general problem of the mentally ill is so great that it is not possible to satisfy it by
Federal action alone and the committee is gratified to learn of increasing activity in these fields by regional associations
of States. The committee commends the Institute for its part in stimulating this needed activity.
"Research progress in this area is expectedly slow due to the very nature of the problems posed by mental illness and
again due to shortages in research talent. However, it is encouraging to note the beginning entrance of diversely trained
scientists into these areas and trust such a trend will continue. This latter happening has already permitted the beginning
of programs on the causes of mental illness including the role of metabolic md endocrine factors. Seeking an organic cause
for certain of the systematic psychoses is a trend in mental health research with exciting possibilities."
However, the final figure authorized by the Congress falls far short of the $29,550,000 requested by the National Mental Health
Committee. Our major disappointment occurred in the area of construction monies for mental health research facilities - although
we had requested $8,000,000 for this important item, we were not allowed any money for the fiscal year 1955. However, there
is reason for some optimism even in this field. The authoritative Washington Report on the Medical Sciences reported the following
on July 6th.
"Likelihood is increasing that in another year Congress will grant funds for construction, expansion and improvement of
research facilities in hospitals and professional schools . . . Senate investigators are gathering data relating to the feasibility
of broadening research assistance in this manner."
As a further evidence of keen Congressional interest in construction monies for research facilities, Senator Edward J. Thye,
chairman of the Subcommittee that handles the mental health funds, had this to say on the floor of the Senate:
"I shall expect the committee staff . . . to assist in the preparation of data and the survey of the whole problem in
an effort to bring the question before the Senate for a definite conclusion as to whether public monies should be granted
to our colleges and hospitals and other nonprofit institutions to add to the total research facilities in the fight against
disease. I hope our study and investigations will offer sufficient evidence to permit us to reach an affirmative conclusion.
I personally think that such an expenditure of Federal funds would inure greatly to the public benefit."
The National Mental Health Committee will redouble its efforts to obtain these vital research construction monies, but it
desperately needs help from the grass roots. State and local mental health societies and individual psychiatrists should write
to their Congressmen, or preferably visit them when they are back home, and explain to them the urgent need for these funds.
Our Committee cannot begin to thank the many people who played so appreciable a part in gaining a record sum of money for
the National Institute of Mental Health. A great deal of credit goes to the witnesses who appeared before both House and
Senate Appropriations Committees on behalf of our budget -- Mr. Charles Schlaifer and Doctors Appel, Bartemier, Bond, English
and Gottlieb. Their effective and well documented testimony was praised by members of both House and Senate Committees and
was certainly influential in gaining the significant increase over last year's figure. Credit must also go to the state
and local mental health societies who wrote very fine letters to Congressmen urging additional appropriations. Most important
of all, we are deeply grateful to the state Governors, both for their activity with individual Congressmen and for their sponsorship
of national and regional mental health conferences which have captured the interest and admiration of the Congress and the
I hope that we can work together even more closely in the coming year to achieve our common objectives. We have a long way
to go but we are making very significant progress each year.