To assist her in her lobbying effort, Lasker hired Mike Gorman, a straight-talking journalist who had exposed grave deficiencies
and abuse in mental hospitals in several states, including Florida (at the behest of Florence Mahoney and her husband's
newspaper, the Miami Daily News). He would work for Lasker for the next forty years as director of her lobbying organization
in Washington, the National Mental Health Committee, later the National Committee Against Mental Illness.
Number of Image Pages:
4 (275,148 Bytes)
1954-04-14 (April 14, 1954)
National Mental Health Committee
Original Repository: Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Mary Lasker Papers
This item is in the public domain. It may be used without permission.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
From Bench to Bedside: Mary Lasker and the Drive for "Payoff" from Medical Research
A Full-time Activist: The National Committee Against Mental Illness, 1953-1963
In answer to your request of Tuesday for a memorandum on what can be done at the state level in the next ten weeks:
1. The southern state survey still has priority. If possible, I should still go down to Atlanta for a week and help them round
out their reports. However, I have hesitated to go away for a week because of the uncertainty about the dates for the hearings.
I talked to the elusive Colonel Quinn last night and he still doesn't have a firmed-update on the House side. However,
he thought they would probably finish with the Institutes the week of April 26th, meaning that we might go on May 3rd. As
to the Senate, the Lord only knows when they will start hearings.
2. The mid-western regional conference on mental health has been tentatively scheduled for June 7-8 in Indianapolis. Sidney
Spector is doing practically all the preliminary work for this conference. He doesn't think the mid-western group is equipped
to make a regional mental health resources survey in time for the '55 legislatures, however, the American Psychiatric
Association is making a survey in Indiana. Governor Williams had his own survey made last year in Michigan. Among the big
states this leaves Ohio, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. It is my impression that Minnesota has been surveyed to death,
and I think there was a survey in Illinois preparatory to the 1953 legislature, which voted $9,000,000 for research for the
In other words, the mid-western situation is much different than that in the south. In the south you were practically starting
from scratch; in the mid-west, there have been a number of surveys of various kinds. However, there is a tremendous need for
regional cooperation in research and training and I think this will be one of the major achievements of the June conference.
If the Senate hearings do not occur at that time, I should go out to Indianapolis and push whatever I think can be pushed
after talking to a couple of the Governors. Much of this has to be played by ear.
3. There are also regional meetings of the very important state commissions on interstate cooperation. These are annual affairs
and they are composed mostly of legislators. Bane attaches great importance to the actions of these commissions. The southern
meeting will be held at Fort Monroe, Virginia on May 3-5 and the mid-western one at French Lick, Indiana around the last week
in May. Mental health will be an important part of the agenda at both of these regional conferences. It would be useful to
attend these, since you are dealing here with legislators who are actually the final arbiters of the monies voted for mental
4. You must remember that the Council of State Governments is doing a very aggressive job of selling the recommendations of
the Detroit conference to the key people involved. It has sent out 5,000 summaries of the Detroit conference to legislators,
budget officers, state officials, the National Association of Science Writers, etc. At the regional meetings referred to above,
it will continue its evangelical work. Because the Council is the official representative of both the National Governors'
Conference and the Conference of Legislators, it is able to do many things which we could not even attempt. Furthermore, when
it sends out a summary of a National Governors' Conference on Mental Health to a legislator in rural Oklahoma, he pays
attention to it because it has the status of an official communication. When we send the same summary to that rural legislator,
he frequently dismisses it as propaganda from a bleeding heart organization.
5. I still feel very strongly about getting the maximum potential out of the existing organizations in the field -- the National
Governors' Conference, the Council of State Governments, the American Psychiatric Association, etc. In other words, my
major aim is to work myself out of a job. If we can persuade these outfits to adopt progressive programs, then we have to
put a real foundation under the mental health movement.
6. If you have time to see Bane in Chicago next Tuesday, it would seem to me that the important questions which should be
asked of him are the following:
a. Why doesn't he expand the National Clearinghouse on Mental Health to the point where it can do an effective technical
and program-planning job for all the states?
b. What is he doing towards selling 1955 state legislatures on line items for research and training?
c. What does he want the mid-western regional mental health conference to accomplish?
d. How about the New England and Western areas? Does the Council have any plans in these areas?
I realize the above thoughts are random in nature; however, I don't think you can write a firm blue print for the next
two or three months. If Fogarty and his little boy Quinn decide on a House floor fight for research construction monies, doesn't
that change the picture as far as concentration of effort is concerned?
I think we ought to talk in more detail about this when you come back east.
Hope that all you girls get rid of your annoying colds.
The New York office is sending a copy of the Menninger piece to Mrs. Rosenberg. I have taken care of the matter of the Saturday
night editor's dinner for Mrs. Mahoney. Miss McDonough is sending me copies of the new heart booklet, which I am eager
to see. I am also awaiting one hundred copies of the mental health fact sheet.
P.S. The House Interstate Commerce Committee is again in Executive Session this morning on the grant-in-aid bill. I hope to
have word on it this afternoon.