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Films on Mental Health Services in Houston

Members of the Junior League of Houston. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]

by Kelly Strickland, Archives Intern

The Texas Medical Center Library, McGovern Historical Center recently processed and put on our website two historical films on the mental health services in Houston, Texas. The films which range from 1958 to 1998 were donated by Dr. William Schnapp.

The first film, called “Help Wanted,” was created 1958 by the Junior League of Houston to give an overview of the various mental health facilities and services in Houston.

Members of the Junior League of Houston. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Members of the Junior League of Houston. [Screenshot from “Help Wanted” (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]

Methodist Hospital and Jefferson Davis Hospital were both places that cared for mental health patients. The film shows images of Methodist Hospital from the 1950s! It also covers the education opportunities for psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers at the University of Houston and Baylor College of Medicine at the time.

The Methodist Hospital. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
The Methodist Hospital. [Screenshot from “Help Wanted” (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Mental health professionals going over patient information. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Mental health professionals going over patient information. [Screenshot from “Help Wanted” (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Technology used to assess mental health patients. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Technology used to assess mental health patients. [Screenshot from “Help Wanted” (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]

“Help Wanted” was narrated by Esme Patterson Gunn, former president of the Junior League of Houston, 1946-1947. We suspect her husband Ralph Gunn was the famous landscape architect behind the Museum of Fine Arts Houston Rienzi building.

The second film, “In Their Shoes,” is a more recent look at mental health services in Houston. It was produced by Dr. Schnapp, psychiatrist Dr. Spencer Bayles, and the Mental Health Needs Council of Houston in 1998. It gives first hand accounts of mental illness as well as explanations of these illnesses by doctors from the UT Mental Sciences Institute, the Harris County Psychiatric Center, and other Houston-based organizations.

Despite the four decades in between the films, they both speak to similar themes: lack of funding for mental health services and the need to improve the services.

The films are also interesting because they show different scenes from around Houston. The pictures here show downtown, a neighborhood, and a church.

Downtown Houston. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Downtown Houston. [Screenshot from “Help Wanted” (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Neighborhood block in Houston. [Screenshot from "Help Wanted" (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
Neighborhood block in Houston. [Screenshot from “Help Wanted” (1958), AVF.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Houston. [Screenshot from "In Their Shoes" (1998), AVV.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Houston. [Screenshot from “In Their Shoes” (1998), AVV.MS238.001, MS 238 Films on Mental Health provided by Bill Schnapp, McGovern Historical Center, Texas Medical Center Library]

The collection also includes a transcript of “Help Wanted” and a written list of credits for both movies.

If anyone has any more information on these films or notice any other Houston-related details, please click on the Help Describe This Item link under the Notes section for either “Help Wanted” or “In Their Shoes.”