This chapter provides a backdrop to our current social security program and an overview of some models for social security programs in Europe and Canada. It explores the genesis of the social program in the United States. The chapter also explores contents of the original social security act (SSA) and compares the titles and programs mandated through the current SSA. It offers some guidelines for the current administration of the program, examines the debate around current proposals for revision, and reviews why these proposals are current issues for consideration. The chapter then presents the current social security system, which provides for older adults, but has also grown to cover dependent women and children. Although many people have argued for their vision to privatize the system, the reality is that there is much more political support to maintain the program as a safety net program rather than a means-tested program.
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This chapter presents a brief overview of some legislative efforts within the mental health (MH) arena and examined their limitations and application with respect to older adults and people living with mental illness. The chapter also takes us through a journey to examine the current status of MH and older adults, with a particular emphasis on depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia. It discusses and reviews the programs, services and issues still outstanding within the MH arena. The chapter helps the reader to understand specific components of the Community Mental Health Act and other MH-related legislation. Many of the community day hospital programs and community MH programs administered through the Community Mental Health Act are based on the deinstitutionalization paradigm since the goal is to treat people outside the institution and within community settings. It concludes with laying out some challenges for the future in the area of MH and older adults.