Richard G. Frank is a professor of health economics at Harvard University. He is co-author of Better But Not Well: Mental Health Policy in the United States Since 1950 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006).
In 1963, President Kennedy challenged the nation to transform the lives of people with mental illnesses. The Kennedy family had first-hand experience with the pain of mental disabilities and their treatments. The president's sister Rosemary experienced long confinements in mental institutions and was treated with a lobotomy. His views surely shaped by the ordeal, Kennedy imagined a society that would no longer warehouse people with serious illnesses in state mental hospitals and would instead provide them with the services and supports that would allow them to live in and be part of their communities.