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Ryan Murphy’s New Psych Hospital Series ‘Ratched’ Gets Premiere Date

What to know: Ken Kesey’s book and film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” made diabolical Nurse Mildred Ratched a household name. She’s now got her own series set in the mid-20th century (prior to the Kesey story), titled “Ratched.” Sarah Paulson plays the evil nurse who gets her first job at a psychiatric institution in California and moves her way up the ladder, eventually landing the head nurse spot. Directed by Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan and produced Michael Douglas, the series features other big names, including Sharon Stone and Cynthia Nixon.

What I found really interesting is that people prescribe such villainy to her and the truth of the matter is that she really was a product of her time. Part of the conceit of the movie is that you fall in love with all the men and their friendship, but you never want the killjoy coming in to say, ‘We have to follow the rules.’ But she was, in her way, trying to offer them help, just with devastating consequences. — Sarah Paulson

The Frontlines: The way mental illness is treated in the U.S. has drastically changed in the last century. Instead of lobotomies and isolation, today’s patients generally receive carefully calibrated medications and psychotherapy. Mental illness is now less stigmatized and viewed as one component of overall health.

  • In the 1950s, there were more than 500,000 Americans held in mental hospitals
  • Beginning in the 1950s, U.S. mental health policy change led to the deinstitutionalization movement, which closed many psychiatric institutions and emphasized community-centered care
  • Currently there are over 170,000 residents in 24-hour mental health treatment centers
  • Though the move away from inhumane institutions is progress, we have a long way to go to make sure everyone receives affordable and accessible mental health care

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A Mighty Voice: Our contributor, T-Kea Blackman, shared what going to the hospital for your mental health is like these days. “The movies do not show you the psychiatric unit can be a calm and peaceful place. Where I was, it allowed people with mental illness to become stable and begin to work on his/her issues through medication, therapy, writing, reading and resting. The staff was kind, and really wanted to see me succeed.” You can submit your first-person story, too.

From Our Community:

Poem written from inside a mental hospital

Other things to know: Mental hospitals are regularly stereotyped in movies, but the reality is usually quite different. These Mighty articles can help provide some insight:

Where to watch: This origin story of the quintessential mental health villain “Ratched” premieres on Netflix on Sept. 18.

Header image via Netflix/Twitter