By Alex Thompson
January 4, 2017
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson suffered a devastating stroke that left him partially paralyzed, semi-blind and so fragile that his wife and doctor hid him from the public. In 1923, Wilson's successor, Warren G. Harding, died suddenly in office from what was later determined to be congestive heart failure. The fragile mortality of the presidency was on display as at no other time in American history, and in 1928, Congress codified a new White House position: the personal physician to the president. Now, a doctor would always be on hand if the president were physically ill.
Left untouched in 1928, however, was the president's mental health. After all, mental illness in the 1920s was most commonly associated with asylums, not the White House. But nearly a century later-and after a revolution in the science of psychiatry-we now know that anyone, even presidents, can suffer from a mental illness. The newly sworn in Congress now has a chance to strengthen the health of all future presidents by appointing a psychiatrist from the military to work alongside the presidential physician. One of the most stressful and consequential offices in human history ought to have easy access to the best medical care available, including when it comes to mental health.