From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Deinstitutionalization is the process of replacing long-stay psychiatric hospitals with less isolated community mental health services for those diagnosed with mental disorder or developmental disability. Deinstitutionalzsation can have two definitions. The first definition focuses on reducing the population size of mental institutions. This can be accomplished by releasing individuals from institutions, shortening the length of stays, and reducing both admissions and readmission. The second definition refers to removing institutional processes from mental hospitals that may create dependency, hopelessness, learned helplessness, and other maladaptive behaviors.
In many cases, the mass deinstitutionalisation of the mentally ill in the Western world from the 1960s onwards has translated into policies of "community release". Individuals who previously would have been in mental institutions are no longer supervised by health care workers. Many are left to their own devices in regards to maintaining their personal medication regimens.