Major Agencies - Mental health

The National Mental Health Association, 1021 Prince Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314-2971; (800) 969-6642, was founded in 1909 to work toward the improved care and treatment of people with mental illnesses, the promotion of mental health, and the prevention of mental disorders. The original National Committee for Mental Hygiene merged with the National Mental Health Foundation and the Psychiatric Foundation in 1950 to create the organization as it now stands.

The association implements its service programs through its 340 affiliates (local chapters and larger state divisions) across the country. These mental health associations tailor their efforts to the needs of their communities.

The National Mental Health Association is composed of one million volunteers and supporters who have a keen interest in mental health. They include family members whose loved ones have been affected by mental illnesses, current or former consumers, mental health professionals, and lay citizens.

Recent and ongoing activities include:

  1. • Coordinated a national coalition to address the needs of people with mental illnesses who are homeless.
  2. • Serves as a prime source of referral and educational information on mental illnesses and mental health issues through the NMHA Mental Health Information Center.
  3. • Assists local and state MHA affiliates in serving communities through patient and family support groups, housing programs, suicide-prevention hotlines, and school mental health education programs.
  4. • Helped extend the civil rights protection of the 8th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to the mentally disabled by representing persons with severe mental illnesses before the Supreme Court.
  5. • Specified a “state-of-the-art” program to prevent severe mental and emotional disabilities in a landmark 1986 report by its National Commission on the Prevention of Mental-Emotional Disabilities.
  6. • Serves as the public-interest policy voice for mental health issues in the Congress and state legislatures.

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