The Glady Strope Mental Health Citizens Advocacy Papers consists of the files and publications created and accumulated by
Glady Strope while she served on mental health advisory committees and groups from the late 1950s until 2005 for Humboldt
County and the State of California. It includes materials from a wide variety of governmental, professional and advocacy
mental health entities. Glady Strope was instrumental in starting mental health services in Humboldt County, California.
The collection reflects the evolution of mental health treatments and services and the increased involvement by citizen advocates,
consumers and their families throughout the United States, during the last quarter of the 20th Century.
In the late 1950s Glady Smith Strope started her career as a volunteer citizen advocate for mental health services in Humboldt
County. Glady is a graduate of Humboldt State University, class of 1944, where she majored in Psychology and Education. She
came to her volunteer work well informed about the mental health theories and practices of that era. Her advocacy work started
at the same time that California passed the Short/Doyle Act (1957) that mandated county level public mental health services.
Glady chaired Humboldt County’s first Mental Health Committee. She was tireless in recruiting others to the cause and in speaking
out that there was a genuine need for mental health treatment services at a time when the local general public was not yet
in full agreement because the causes of mental duress and illness were not well understood beyond professional circles. Humboldt
County citizens and elected officials made progress and by 1965 the county was offering direct services. From that time until
her retirement from active service in 1995 Glady stayed at the forefront, advocating for effective programs for every age
group and segment of the population, especially children. Over the years Glady became more and more active on statewide committees
and attended many conferences. She was continually educating herself, then others, and publicizing the need for good quality
mental health services. Glady was appointed to the California Council on Mental Health in 1986 and then, starting in 1991,
she served as Chair and Chief Executive Officer for one term. Glady remained active at the county level even after she received
state level appointments.
Glady started and ended her career as a volunteer. Within her papers (Box 9, folder 27) is Glady’s full statement of the ideas
and philosophy that guided her through the decades. Included here are the last two paragraphs; they provide a good summary:
“I am personally totally committed to Community Mental Health, and I feel very strongly, along with many experts in the field,
that mentally and emotionally ill people can be treated much better and at a much lower cost-both financially and emotionally-in
the community setting. Volunteers help make this community care possible. We are primarily concerned with enhancing the ‘quality
of life’ of our patients, not only throughout their hospital stay but when they return to their homes as well.”
“There are many frustrations, low points and discouraging times when working as a Volunteer with the mentally and emotionally
ill and with alcoholics. However, I can assure you that the personal benefits that accrue from giving a bit of one’s self,
and in sharing the most important thing we possess – the gift of time- far outweigh the frustrations and can be an incredibly
In the last decade of her life Glady was still alert and attuned to mental health issues, though her direct participation
gradually waned. Many of her memories are captured in the interviews she did with KEET’s Living Biography program and the
oral history interview conducted by the Humboldt County Historical Society. See the Related Works section of this Finding
Aid for additional biographical information and the text of “History of Mental Health In Humboldt County as told by Gladys