Mendota Mental Health Institute - Background of Promise
Mendota opened on July 14, 1860 when it
admitted a patient who had been brought all the way from Oconto County...a long trip by
horse and wagon. Even though the hospital was not yet ready to open, that Saturday it was
decided that, because of the distance the patient had been brought, he should be received.
Thus began Mendota's ready response to the needs of patients and communities, which has
been its tradition.
Mendota has gone through many changes since then, some of
them dramatized in the changes in its name. It opened as an "Asylum",
appropriate in an era when little could be done for the mentally ill except to house and
care for them...i.e. to give them asylum...when their families and communities could no
longer cope with their needs.
In a later era, when patients were recognized as having an
illness...mental illness...the name was changed to Mendota State Hospital, reflecting its
responsibility for providing treatment.
In more recent times, with the discovery of psychiatric
medications and with new approaches (some of which resulted from research at Mendota
itself) it became possible for the mentally ill to be treated in community hospitals and
clinics. But there remained a need for a place for those who required more specialized
treatment than most community hospitals and clinics could provide, and where the tradition
of research, education, and consultation that Mendota had already established could
continue. Mendota was then changed to its present name of Mendota Mental Health Institute.
Mendota has a distinguished history as one of the most
progressive psychiatric facilities in the country. It is well-known for its advanced
The methods for community treatment developed in Mendota's
PACT program have been adopted throughout Wisconsin and many other states, as well as
Mendota's program in forensic psychiatry has been
recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health as one of the top ten such programs
in the United States.
Mendota's Geropsychiatric Treatment Unit is noted for its
assessment and treatment of the elderly who suffer from emotional and neurological
conditions which affect behavior, including Alzheimer's Disease.
But those are only a few of Mendota's programs; in all,
there are 13 treatment units serving the needs of adults and
elderly as well as special forensic populations. Each has a distinguished record of
Mendota is the only facility in Wisconsin, public or
private, which ever received the Gold Achievement Award of the American Psychiatric
Association, the highest award possible for mental health programs in America.
Mendota was one of the first mental hospitals in the
country to receive accreditation by the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of
Hospitals, which continues to accredit Mendota today.
Mendota has been the "cradle" for the clinical
education of hundreds of mental health professionals in Wisconsin and beyond. And Mendota
provides for their continued education by offering regular seminars and workshops.
When Mendota opened in 1860 it was the first mental
hospital in Wisconsin. It held a promise of something better than this state had ever had
before. It has not failed to keep that promise.
Mendota is owned by the people of Wisconsin and they have
every right to be proud of it...of its history, its achievements today, and its promise
for the future!
Mendota Mental Health Institute
301 Troy Drive, Madison, WI 53704
Phone:(608) 301-1000 Fax:(608) 301-1358
April 16, 2014