A Brief History

Mental Health America of Kentucky is the Commonwealth’s longest service mental health organization. In early 1951 with the backing and encouragement of Barry Bingham, Sr. and Dr. S. S. Ackerly, the Council of Jewish Women began an effort to build up interest in a statewide mental health organization.

The group gathered in Louisville in June formed and incorporated the Kentucky Association for Mental Health, with the aim to protect and promote the interest of the mentally ill.The first real achievement of the members of the Association, in conjunction with medical professionals and governmental leaders, was the creation of a Department of Mental Health. Frank M. Gaines, M.D. became the first Commissioner of that department.

During the 60’s, the number one priority for the Association was the Kentucky Department for Mental Health budget and funding for mental health services. With our assistance, Twelve Regional Mental Health Centers were operating in Kentucky with federal income of $2 million and other income of approximately $1 million.

The 70’s highlighted the area of prevention for Kentucky’s school systems. The 70’s saw a dramatic number of patients discharged from mental hospitals without proper plans for care. We protested this and was able to affect some changes on the behalf of patients.

During the ‘80’s the association was instrumental in helping establish the Kentucky Mental Health Coalition, a Coalition still active today.

The 90’s continued to be a decade of education of the Commonwealth. The inaugural Mental Health Institute was held. During this decade, through donations, our scholarship program began.

The legislative priority for 2000 was mental health care parity. Upon passage of parity, Mental Health America of Kentucky began in earnest to provide education and scholarships for the Commonwealth.

From 2010 until today, Mental Health America of Kentucky provides training to professionals, consumers and the general public. We provide educational material on mental health and provide free, anonymous, online screening. We promote programs for Living Your Life Well, B4Stage4, Trauma-Informed Care, and we provide scholarships to college students. We continue to make a difference in the lives of those with mental illness.