About The National Council
National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s community mental health and addictions treatment organizations. Together with 2,500 member organizations, it serves more than eight million adults and children living with mental illnesses and addiction disorders. The organization is committed to ensuring all Americans have access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery and full participation in community life. Mental Health First Aid has trained 500,000 individuals to connect youth and adults in need to mental health and addictions care in their communities.
Premier Behavioral Health Association
A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) association, the National Council for Behavioral Health’s mission is to advance our members’ ability to deliver integrated healthcare.
The National Council advocates for policies that ensure people who have mental health and substance use problems can access comprehensive healthcare services. We also offer state-of-the-science education and practice improvement consulting and resources to ensure mental health and addiction services are efficient and effective.
The National Council operates the Mental Health First Aid program across the U.S and operates the SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions to provide nationwide technical assistance on integrating primary and behavioral healthcare. We offer the annual National Council Conference featuring the best in leadership, organizational development, and excellence in mental health and addictions practice.
National Council Magazine, National Council Live webinars, and our Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research offer in-depth perspectives on current trends and hot topics in mental health and addictions — suicide prevention, trauma-informed care, the future of behavioral health, treating addictions as a disease, care for children and youth, integrated health and wellness, criminal justice and mental health collaboration, and more.
Building Healthy Communities
On October 31, 1963, President John F. Kennedy signed into law the Community Mental Health Act (also known as the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963), which drastically altered the delivery of mental health services and inspired a new era of optimism in mental healthcare. This law led to the establishment of comprehensive community mental health centers throughout the country. It helped people with mental illnesses who were “warehoused” in hospitals and institutions move back into their communities.
Along with this law, the development of more effective psychotropic medications and new approaches to psychotherapy made community-based care for people with mental illnesses a feasible solution. A growing body of evidence at that time demonstrated that mental illnesses could be treated more effectively and in a more cost-effective manner in community settings than in traditional psychiatric hospitals.
As services offered to people with mental illnesses became more diverse and comprehensive, it also became clear that helping people function at optimal levels would require the addition of treatment services for addiction disorders. This coordinated brand of service was labeled as “behavioral healthcare” — and providing comprehensive mental health and addictions services is the goal of community-based behavioral health organizations today.
Community-based mental health and addictions care continues to be a more effective option than institutionalization in terms of access to quality healthcare and cost to the taxpayer and private payer. However, the organizations delivering such care have evolved far beyond the original community mental health centers.
Community-based behavioral healthcare is delivered by a mix of government and county-operated organizations, as well as private nonprofit and for-profit organizations. These mental health and addiction services are funded by a patchwork of sources, including Medicaid; Medicare; county, state, and federal programs; private insurance; and self-pays.
Services in the Community
Looking for mental health and addictions treatment services in your community? The National Council for Behavioral Health’s Find a Provider feature lists member organizations in your area.
Today, America’s behavioral health organizations are building strong and healthy communities by helping people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders to recover and lead productive lives. These organizations are:
- Saving lives through 24-hour crisis response and suicide prevention
- Lowering health system costs by integrating primary care prevention into behavioral health settings
- Keeping neighborhoods safe by providing re-entry treatment to prisoners with mental health and substance use needs
- Building strong local economies by linking people with job training and employment services
- Using the latest trauma and brain research on to push forward with new mental health and addiction therapies
- Helping people stay sober by providing alcohol and drug abuse treatment
- Helping veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder
- Making schools a healthy place to grow and learn
- Teaching Americans to recognize and help persons with mental illness through Mental Health First Aid