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Mental Health Policy

Policy Related Reference Sources to look for Overviews

If you need to find a topic that is researchable in a semester and that is relevant to social policy, it can be essential to locate and read overviews on your topic in order to understand how laws, regulations, court cases, and common practices may have influenced your topic.   For that matter, you will need to discover whether there has been any policy at all written or proposed about your idea for a topic.  Here are some starting points to use, in addition to Google, in order to get a general overview about your policy topic.  Wikipedia can also be a very helpful starting place for understanding policy topics, although it is important to cite more reliable sources for your final paper.

CQ Researcher

Resources on American government, current affairs, history, politics, public policy, and data analysis for the social sciences.  Youtube video about concerns with Whiteness and CQ Researcher (part of CQ Press Library)
Vendor: Sage

Encyclopedia of Social Work

Co-published by the National Association of Social Workers and Oxford University Press.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President from a slate of candidates Congress proposes.

Full-text source for information on current issues, studies, thoughts and trends of the legal world with coverage back to 1908. Search through Ebsco.

Indexing for more than 1200 major law reviews, legal newspapers, Bar Association journals, and international law journals. Search through Gale.

Opposing ViewPoints


Use the Advanced Search link under OneSearch search on the Hunter Library homepage to find books in libraries on campus, as shown:

Screen shot of Library home with Advanced Search link circled just past search box

Enter keywords for your topic on separate lines.  Sometimes the term policy is helpful.  Sometimes choosing Subject instead of Any Field is helpful.

Any field changed to Subject in first drop down.  policy entered in following edit box.  mental health in next edit box.  school entered  in third edit box.  must select link "+ADD A NEW LINE" to get 3rd edit box

After searching, you can further refine your search with options on the right column under the Filter Results heading.  Useful headings under the Filter Results to consider using include: Library, where you may want to limit to Silberman, Topic/Subject, where you may choose terms related to your topic, and Date, where you can limit by publication date.  If you did not limit to Books when you searched, you can do so after you search under the heading "Resource Type".

Things to Consider When Researching Policy Topics

—Keep these questions in mind as you begin reading overviews.  If you begin to figure out the answers to these questions during preliminary research and reading, the answers may allow you to locate additional research much more easily.—

Have governmental policies on your topic been proposed or created, or are you proposing something entirely new?

If you are proposing something new, can you locate any pilot studies similar to what you want to propose?

If something was proposed or created before, is the activity related to your policy topic legislative (laws or bills), executive (regulations), or judicial (court decisions)?

* Legislation, including laws and bills, come from the legislative branch of government, which is Congress (House of Representatives and Senate for federal, Assembly and Senate for New York State).

* Regulations come from the executive branch of government, which includes government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration.

* The judicial branch of government decides cases.

Definitions of Administrative Law and Regulations:

* Administrative Law- regulations and rules established by agencies formed by federal or state legislatures. The legislative statutes establishing these agencies give them their authority. from: administrative law. (1998). In Mosby's Emergency Dictionary. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from

* Regulation- An agency is often delegated the power to issue regulations by the legislation that created it. Regulations must be made in accordance with prescribed procedures, such as those set out in the federal or a state Administrative Procedure Act. Federal regulations are first published in the Federal Register and later codified in the Code of Federal Regulations. from: regulation. (1996). In Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from

Do you know if a law was passed or if a bill was introduced on your topic?

If so, was it at local, state, or federal level?

When did the law pass or when was the bill introduced?  Was it passed as part of another law or did it amend another law?  Has it been overturned?  Is it reauthorized periodically?

Have you found an exact title of a bill or law, a public law (PL) number or a bill number?  These may be helpful for locating the text of a law or bill, and in understanding what you are reading.