AUGUST 21, 1958
HYDE PARK—Our Congress is becoming increasingly conscious of the need for research in problems of health to be set up on an international basis. With this in mind and even though he had little hope that it would be passed at this session, Senator Lister Hill of Alabama introduced a bill about a week ago asking to set up a national institute of international medical research.
Such an organization would be established in the research arm of the Public Health Service where many research institutes are already set up and it would concentrate on diseases that are world wide.
From this we should reap many benefits. We could establish the needed relationships and interchange of ideas and experiments between our research people and research people in other parts of the world. Any discovery anywhere could be known everywhere. All the knowledge could be pooled, evaluated and examined. Something first discovered in some obscure place in the world, with the assistance of other bits of research and the efforts of other countries, might turn out to be of great value to the whole world. For instance, we might find the answer to cancer if we cooperated with everyone working in that field throughout the world.
Senator Hill asked for an appropriation of $50,000,000 annually and for the appointment of a national advisory council to award contracts for international research. He urges the people of the country to weigh this bill and let their Senators and Representatives know how they feel about it.
I think it is a good thing to have an interim period during which we may discuss the idea among friends and at social gatherings, but I have no doubt that in the long run this bill should pass.
Moving from a general problem to a particular problem in a field that should command our attention—mental illness—I want to mention the receipt of a folder from the Menninger Foundation. This foundation does its work in Topeka, Kansas, and you might logically ask why people throughout the country should be interested.
My answer is that this is not a problem for any one state. It is a problem all of us should be thinking about.
The Menninger brothers and the Foundation which they have established are doing work that helps every other private or state or Federal institution working in this field.
Their pamphlet tells us that one out of every ten people in the United States suffers from mental illness at some time. Half of all our hospital beds are for these patients. The shortage of those who care for these patients is quite appalling. Twenty thousand psychiatrists are urgently needed and only 9,000 are available.
Of great importance is the need for more and more research in the effort to unearth the causes of mental illness, to find better ways of treatment and to prevent the disease. Few people really understand that mental illness is an illness from which one can recover and return to home and job and place of business.
The program of the Menninger Foundation, in cooperation with Federal, state, community and private programs, treats 10,500 adults and child patients annually. It is appealing for the support of the public, and I hope it will receive that support from every possible source.