(Note: This is another part of my continuing series about the state of mental heath treatment during my parents’ time and how it affected them in caring for their first child, my older brother Michael – autistic, low functioning and nonverbal)
This was a good year. It was the year my parents got married.
During the 1940s, a significant number of Conscientious Objectors (COs), who were forbidden by their conscience to kill, served their country in civilian capacity and came to work in mental institutions in the United States and worked in Civilian Public Service (CPS) teams.  Prior to 1946, four COs, (Harold Barton, Willard C. Hetzel, Philip Steer, Leonard Edelstein) worked at Philadelphia State Hospital, also known as Byberry, where the patients were treated deplorably. They realized that the abuse and poor treatment of their charges was not unique to Byberry and sought change. In 1946 they founded the National Mental Health Foundation (NMHF). In 1948, a story in a Philadelphia newspaper celebrated this accomplishment and quoted Barton who framed a very modern attitude toward the provision of mental health:
“Our mental hospitals should be centers of education – acquainting the public with its responsibility in helping afflicted persons return to a normal life as soon as possible instead of serving merely as places of confinement. … To do this we must use society’s existing institutions – the family, the school, etc. – and through them, apply accepted principles of mental health.” 
The foundation flourished through the involvement of prominent public figures such as former Supreme Court Judge Owen J. Roberts and publications of articles, books and pamphlets.
On May 6, 1946 Life Magazine published “Bedlam 1946: Most U.S. Mental Hospitals are a Shame and a Disgrace.”  The article was an exposé about Byberry and Cleveland State hospital, supported with materials gathered by the NMHF.  Paradoxically, “The crisis in state mental hospitals motivated Dr. Walter Freeman to devise a simple version of the lobotomy procedure, one that could be used on a mass scale.” 
On the psychiatric end of the spectrum, William C. Menninger founded the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry (GAP) in 1946. Dr. Menninger and other psychiatrists, returning to civilian life after World War II found the state of psychiatry inadequate.  
Mental Health Act of 1946
Finally, the Mental Health Act of 1946 came into being in that year. This “[p]rovided funding for research into causes, prevention and treatment of mental illness. It also led to establishment in 1949 of the National Institute of Mental Health and provided for Federal investigation of mental hospitals. Investigators found apathy, neglect, and custodial care.” 
It seems that 1946 was a good beginning for mental health and also for my parents.
 Trent, J.W. Jr. Inventing the Feeble Mind. A History of Mental Retardation in the United States. Berkely: U. of California Press, 1995
 Polier, R. Philadelphia Story – How Experiences of Four Conscientious Objectors at Byberry Resulted in a National Crusade to aid the Mentally Ill The Evening Bulletin, Philadelphia, Monday, October 18, 1948
 Maisel, A.Q. Bedlam 1946: Most U.S. Mental Hospitals are a Shame and a Disgrace. Life Magazine May 6, 1946
 Wright, F.L. Jr. Out of Sight, Out of Mind. 1947 National Mental Health Foundation, Inc. cited from http://www.disabilitymuseum.org/dhm/lib/detail.html?id=1754&&page=49