National Council for Mental Wellbeing

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The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 3,326 member organizations serving over 10 million adults, children and families living with mental illnesses and addictions, the National Council is committed to all Americans having access to comprehensive, high-quality care that affords every opportunity for recovery. The National Council introduced Mental Health First Aid USA and more than 2 million Americans have been trained.

A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) association, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s mission is to advance our members’ ability
to deliver integrated health care.

Premier Behavioral Health Association

The National Council is a 501(c)(3) association that advocates for policies that ensure people who have mental health and substance abuse disorders have access to comprehensive, evidence-based health care services. We also offer state-of-the-science education and practice improvement consulting and resources to ensure services are efficient and effective. We achieve this through several ways:

There’s a rich history behind community behavioral healthcare. Learn more about President Kennedy’s Community Mental Health Act and its impact felt today, 50 years later.

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 health care. This law led to 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.

At the same time, 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 demonstrated that mental illnesses could be treated with better outcomes and more cost-effectively 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 required addition of treatment services for substance use disorders. This coordinated brand of service was labeled as “behavioral health care” with a goal of providing comprehensive services addressing mental health and substance use disorders in community-based behavioral health organizations.

This comprehensive approach continues to be a more effective option than institutionalization in terms of access to quality health care and cost to the taxpayer and private payer. However, the organizations delivering this care have evolved far beyond the original community mental health centers.

Community-based behavioral health care is delivered by a combination of government and county-operated organizations, as well as private nonprofit and for-profit organizations. These mental health and addiction services are funded by diverse sources, including Medicaid; Medicare; county, state and federal programs; private insurance and self-pays.

Transparency and Accountability

In an effort to provide transparency, The National Council is committed to sharing several important resources.


Looking back, 2018 was a year of impact and influence. We strengthened communities, moved the needle on critical policy issues and enabled providers to effect positive change. And we did it all with leadership from our board of directors, support from our membership and contributions from our partners.

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