About The National Council
The National Council for Behavioral Health is the unifying voice of America’s health care organizations that deliver mental health and addictions treatment and services. Together with our 3,000 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 1.5 million Americans have been trained.
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 use disorders have access to comprehensive, evidence-based health care services. Our state-of-the-science education and practice improvement resources include:
- Mental Health First Aid USA– 1.5 million people have learned the skills to identify and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges.
- SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions – Nationwide technical assistance on integrating primary and behavioral health care.
- National Council Conference – The best in leadership, organizational development and excellence in mental health and addictions practice.
- National Council Magazine – Perspectives on current trends and hot topics in mental health and addictions from leaders in our profession.
- National Council Webinars– Meet experts on key mental health and addictions topics online.
- Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research – Examines the organization, financing, delivery and outcomes of behavioral health services.
Find Services in Your Community
Looking for mental health and addictions treatment services in your community?
Find a Provider helps you access member organizations in your area.
National Council members:
- Save lives through 24-hour crisis response and suicide prevention.
- Reduce health system costs by integrating primary care prevention into behavioral health settings.
- Keep neighborhoods safe by providing re-entry treatment to prisoners with mental health and substance use needs.
- Build strong local economies by linking people with job training and employment services.
- Use the latest trauma and brain research to implement new mental health and addiction therapies.
- Help people in need by providing substance use treatment and recovery programs.
- Help veterans and their families cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Make schools healthy for children to grow and learn.
- Teach individuals and communities to identify and respond to signs of mental health and substance use challenges through Mental Health First Aid.
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.