History.

1983 The mental health consumer/survivor movement in Tennessee began to develop. Supporters of the movement began to understand the need and importance of a mental health consumer movement in our state. Through a Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Community Support Program grant in 1984 plans for mental health consumer and family programs/groups began.

1987 At the National Alternatives Conference in Huntingdon, West Virginia, more than 25 mental health consumers from Tennessee gathered. They decided to form the Tennessee Mental Health Consumers’ Association (TMHCA), which had as its mission to advocate for the well-being of people with mental illness in Tennessee. A committee of nine mental health consumers from around the state outlined a charter for the organization and planned a state conference.

1988 Roughly 65 mental health consumers met in Monteagle, Tennessee at a conference. The main objectives of this conference were forming the organization, electing officers and ratifying by-laws. TMHCA files its articles of incorporation in April 1988. Bob Long was TMHCA’s first Executive Director.

1989 TMHCA had grown to 175 members. Representatives for TMHCA worked closely with the protection and advocacy agency to advocate for mental health consumers in psychiatric institutions. TMHCA members participated in developing the Master Plan for Mental Health Services. Over 200 mental health consumers attended state conferences.

1992 TMHCA and the National Alliance on Mentally Illness Tennessee (NAMI TN), collaborated on a Rural Networking Project to reach out to consumers and family members in small communities who needed information, training and social support.

1994 A group of mental health consumers, family members and professionals were brought together to apply for federal grant money for a program that would meet mental health consumer needs for education and support. Mental health consumers gathered feedback from more than 100 of their peers across the state regarding how the program should be designed and what should be taught in the course.

1996 Building Recovery of Individual Dreams & Goals through Education & Support (BRIDGES) program was implemented and has served thousands in Tennessee for nearly twenty years. BRIDGES program is staffed by mental health consumer teachers and facilitators trained by TMHCA. Twelve other states and one Canadian province and a mental health consumer groups in England have adopted the BRIDGES program.

1998 TMHCA’s Regional Advocacy Program was initiated to formalize TMHCA’s traditional role in helping mental health consumers advocate for services, supports and rights.

2003 Anthony Fox appointed Interim Executive Director in March and hired permanent for the position in July.

2004 TMHCA opens the Peer Center in Memphis. Since its inception the Peer Center has served thousands of people with mental illness and/or substance use disorder. The Peer Center is a place designed for adults that have received mental health services. It is a mechanism for social change with an extraordinary value placed on education, independence and recovery.

2007 After months of negations and planning TMHCA signs its first Managed care Contract in December with AmeriChoice (now UnitedHealthcare) and soon contracts with Amerigroup and BlueCross BlueShield (ValueOptions). Over the next several years TMHCA became Tennessee’s primary provider of Peer Support services within TennCare (TN’s Medicaid Program) opening locations in Columbia, Dickson, Jackson, Knoxville, Memphis and Murfreesboro. The program in Dickson was relocated to McMinnville in June 2010.

2009 TMHCA’s PeerLINK Pilot Project was a collaborative endeavor between the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health, OptumHealth, and TMHCA. The Pilot lasted for nine months and the focus was on peer support with individuals with a history of recurrent hospitalizations. The project was based on the Peer Bridger concept that was developed and realized by the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. This result of the project was a 73.2% decrease in the average number of hospital bed days for pilot members and significant improvement in quality of life and recovery.

2010 The Beers Van Gogh Center (BVG) of Excellence opened in September. BVG is a multipurpose facility where people with mental illness from the community, and homeless individuals with severe and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorder come to establish or re-establish links to mainstream resources. The BVG also houses 10 individuals in Single Room Occupancy Units (SROs). Residents have access to onsite evidence based and/or best practice curriculum through the TMHCA Peer Center and/or through intensive case management services.

2012 TMHCA purchases an 8000 square foot property at 3931 Gallatin Pike in Nashville. The property houses TMHCA’s corporate and support staff and Nashville PeerLINK program.

2012 In July, TMHCA establishes a 401K plan for its employees.

2013 TMHCA goes back to its birthplace celebrating the agency’s 25th Anniversary on May 16, 2013 in Monteagle, Tennessee. Approximately 350 people attended including Paolo del Vecchio, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

2013 TMHCA purchases property on 810 Bluff Springs Road in McMinnville in September to expand housing options for people with mental illness and/or substance use disorders.

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