What are State Mental Health Planning and Advisory Councils?

In 1986, a Federal law was passed that required states to do mental health planning as a condition of receiving federal mental health funds. It further required that the planning process include various stakeholder groups-consumers of mental health services, parents of children with emotional disturbances, family members of adults with serious mental illness, representatives from State agencies: mental health, education, vocational rehabilitation, criminal justice, housing, social services and the state Medicaid agency as well as public and private entities concerned with the need, planning, operation, funding, and use of mental health services and related support services. U.S. States and Territories then formed these councils which now exist in every state.

What do these councils do?

The purpose of the planning councils in each State and Territory is to meaningfully involve concerned citizens in planning and evaluating the mental health service delivery in their states. Defined by Federal law, these councils:

Review community mental health block grant plans and make recommendations to the State administration.
Monitor, review and evaluate all mental health services throughout the State or Territory.
Serve as advocates for adults with serious mental illnesses, children with severe emotional disturbances, and others with mental health needs.
What role does NAMHPAC play in this?

NAMHPAC provides technical support, opportunities for people to share information and ideas across states, and a national voice on mental health planning issues. The people active in NAMHPAC and a small part-time staff write resource materials, organize trainings, and assist each other through telephone, fax and e-mail technical assistance. To read a history of planning councils and NAMHPAC, read NAMHPAC’s whitepaper on the “Evolution of Federal Mental Health Planning Legislation” by Joseph de Raismes III (Colorado Mental Health Planning Council).

Who are some of the people involved?

NAMHPAC has a Board of Directors and a Public Policy Committee. Board members govern the organization using the NAMHPAC Policy Manual, which is based on the Carver governance model. Board members are elected by the membership at the annual membership meeting for three-year terms. The public policy committee is an ad hoc committee of appointed members who focus on mental health planning policy issues.

How do I get more involved?

Are you are a member of one of a mental health planning or advisory council in your State or Territory or a state-level advocate? Then NAMHPAC is the network where you are likely to find people who share your concerns. Most people first get involved with NAMHPAC in order to learn, but it usually isn’t long before they find the chance to help others. You’re invited to use this site to connect and communicate with others in the network. Participate in discussion forums and join the Listserve and receive NAMHPAC’s monthly newsletter. Encourage the chair of your planning council to join and stay involved. Remember: this website is your best connection to the range of resources and services available through NAMHPAC. Plan to visit often!

How else is NAMHPAC involved with mental health issues?

NAMHPAC commentates on pertinent mental health issues, stays aware of new and emerging information, and builds relationships with other organizations in the field by participating in coalitions and groups.