The Care of the Chronically Mentally Ill

Boarding Out, An Alternative to Family and Hospital Care
  • M. Rolf Olsen


Since the 1950’s the idea of caring for the recovered and chronically mentally disturbed in environments other than the family or hospital has seemed to be logical, therapeutically viable, and to have a number of advantages over these additional forms of care. Yet in spite of the sporadic enthusiasm which the notion has aroused, the strategy has by and large remained relatively undeveloped outside mainstream psychiatry, and as a sideline undeserving of serious professional attention, political aid or financial commitment. The explanation for this inconsistency lies in a number of issues, not least in the lack of available evidence which examines the outcome to caring for the mentally disabled in non-hospital environments other than the family. (Alternatives include hostels, group homes, boarding-houses, and substitute family care.) This paper examines the evidence for looking after the recovered or chronically mentally disturbed in one such alternative — boarding houses — and argues for their proper development within a range of provision which should be available.


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© Spectrum Publications, Inc. 1985

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  • M. Rolf Olsen

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