Our Beginning

Building Recovery & Individual Dreams & Goals through Education & Support (BRIDGES) was founded in 1995 through a partnership between the Tennessee Mental Health Consumers’ Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Tennessee. BRIDGES was developed using focus groups of over one hundred people in recovery.

The Tennessee Mental Health Consumers' Association (TMHCA) is Tennessee’s only statewide consumer owned and operated organization (and one of the only national 501C3 organizations) with a board of directors and staff who are 100% mental health consumers who work for and on behalf of adults with mental illness.


TMHCA is an organization that understands and lives the concept “consumer-operated, peer services.” TMHCA’s goals are to provide training, technical assistance, education and advocacy opportunities that shall enhance the quality of life for mental health consumers by creating an atmosphere of respect, self-responsibility, honesty and empowerment.”

The National Alliance on Mental Illness Tennessee (NAMI-TN) is a grassroots, self-help organization dedicated to improving quality of life for individuals with mental illness, their families and communities. Its mission is accomplished through mutual support, education and advocacy.

NAMI Tennessee is dedicated to enhancing the message of recovery in the state while still offering meaningful support to those who are significantly by mental illness, encouraging, educating and supporting diverse families; cultivating new partners and having direct involvement with Tennessee Legislature, administration and mental health stakeholders, influencing public policy, improving quality of life for all who are affected by mental illness.

The Program

BRIDGES is a self-help program that provides education and support to and by people with mental illness.  There are two parts to the program; courses on recovery and support groups. The program is offered in Tennessee and in many other states and in two countries outside of the United States; Canada and England.

The education component of BRIDGES is a 10-week course for individuals diagnosed with mental illness. The curriculum focuses on these major psychiatric illnesses (thought disorders, mood disorders, anxiety disorders and personality disorders), explaining the clinical treatment of these illnesses and teaching the knowledge and skills that people need in working toward recovery.

The ongoing support group is the other key element of BRIDGES.  BRIDGES support group meetings provide a structured way for individuals to strengthen coping skills and deal with the realities of daily life with a mental health diagnosis.

Classes and support groups are taught and facilitated by peers that have undergone an intense five-day training.

The course and support groups are open to adults 18 years and older in recovery from a mental health condition or substance use disorder. Participation is encouraged during BRIDGES but it is not mandatory. There is no pass-or-fail and BRIDGES does not have literacy requirements. Students are only asked to attend all scheduled classes and groups.

For more information about BRIDGES call 615 250 1176 or email info@tmhca-tn.org.