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[Perspectives] An ounce of prevention

On Feb 5, 1963, President John F Kennedy made a provocative speech to the US Congress. His topic? Mental illness. According to Kennedy, mental health problems affected more people, required longer treatment, drained more financial resources from both individuals and the state, and caused more suffering than other health conditions in the USA. The situation, he emphasised, could not persist. Claiming that recent public health advances had largely controlled infectious diseases, Kennedy argued that a similar “bold new approach” was required to “attack” mental health problems.