Most long-stay patients discharged from psychiatric hospitals under community care policy are being accommodated in suburban communities. The communities' attitudes have a major bearing on the success of this policy. A census of perceptions of psychiatric services was conducted in two areas prior to the opening of long-stay supported houses for the mentally ill. Many respondents (37%) had a negative perception of psychiatric treatment in hospital. Most (82%) had heard of community care policy but few (29%) knew about the imminent opening of supported houses for the long-term mentally HI in their own street. Most respondents (66%) were against the closure of psychiatric hospitals and many saw It as a cost cutting exorcise. The majority agreed with the idea of long-stay patients being discharged into smaller units in the community although a substantial minority (20%) thought it would have a bad effect on the local community. An overwhelming majority of respondents (91%) thought it was important for local residents to be given information about new mental health facilities in their neighbourhood. Respondents were worried that patients would not get adequate support and that they might be dangerous. If community care policy is to succeed, attention needs to be paid to the community's opinions and desire for information about local services.
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