History of Mental Health Treatment

  • 1752

    Pennsylvania Hospital

    The first modern institution to accept patients suffering from mental illness. Started by the Quakers in Philadelphia, the hospital housed just a small number of patients, eventually growing into a much larger full-time ward for these patients.

  • 1812

    Benjamin Rush

    Medical Inquiries and Observations upon Diseases of the Mind, the first systematic textbook on mental health was published. It’s author, Benjamin Rush, advocated for treatment methods like hot and cold baths, bleeding, purging, and even mercury.

  • 1850

    Dorothea Dix

    Prominent advocate for individuals suffering from mental illness in jails and hospitals. Wrote constantly about inhumane conditions and proposed solutions to provide patients the proper care they needed.

  • 1895

    Sigmund Freud

    Freud is the father of psychoanalytic therapy and published the first psychoanalytic book Studies on Hysteria with Breur in 1895, which was soon to be followed by his famous work The Interpretation of Dreams.

  • 1913

    Classical Behaviorism

    Classical Behaviorism was developed and spread through the psychological community by John B Watson, which moved the focus of psychological treatment from introspection to observable behaviors.

  • 1930s


    Neobehaviorism was developed by many great psychologists including Hull and Skinner, which branched from classical behaviorism to investigate adaptive behaviors.

  • 1960s

    Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Dr. Aaron Beck, building off previous behaviorist research, helped bring the scientific community modalities to begin treating a variety of mental disorders with a framework proven to work.

  • 1980s

    Dialectical Behavior Therapy

    DBT was developed to treat conditions that did not respond as well to traditional CBT and is specifically used to target populations with a higher rate of suicidality.

  • 1987

    First SSRI Drugs Approved

    Prozac, a select serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), was approved by the FDA and was prescribed to many. Most of today’s other drugs have generally fewer side effects, however this drug is still prescribed.

  • 2018

    Sage Institute for Mental Health