Mental Health America of Augusta is a non-profit, non-governmental, service, education, advocacy, and volunteer organization focused on mental health. Its mission is to improve the mental health of its community by providing education, advocacy, and connection related to mental health and the treatment of mental illness.
MHA-A is a full affiliate of Mental Health America, the leading advocacy organization addressing the full spectrum of mental health and substance use conditions and their effects, nationwide. MHA-A works to inform, advocate, and enable access to quality behavioral health services for all Americans.
As an advocacy organization, MHA-A works closely with area legislators to promote the passage of legislation that supports its mission. It serves the community by providing information and referral to local providers, public agencies, and support groups. MHA-A also provides educational seminars for both the professional community and local citizens to include community based, on-going programs supporting self-esteem, wellness, and awareness.
In the early 1950's Staunton area community leaders grew concerned over a real and growing need to respond to area mental health needs. On May 10th, 1954, a group of these leaders, led by the Rev. Dr. J. Lewis Gibbs, rector of Staunton's Emmanual Episcopal Church, organized the Staunton-West Augusta Mental Health Association. In 1959, community leaders from the other half of Augusta County formed the Waynesboro-East Augusta Mental Health Association to respond to needs in that area.
To facilitate a wider range of programs and services for the entire area, and to enhance its advocacy efforts, the two associations merged in 1990 to become the Mental Health Association of Augusta. In 2008, the national organization changed its name and identity to become Mental Health America. the Augusta association was renamed Mental Health America - Augusta later the same year.
On of the group's first objectives in the 1950's was to secure a mental health clinic in the area. The need for the clinic was particularly acute since Virginia's Western State Hospital was in Staunton and many of the hospital's discharged patients remained in the area. Many of these former patients needed continued mental health services not then available. The mental health group was successful in obtaining state and local funds to establish the Valley Mental Health Clinis in 1956. That clinic was the forerunner of the present Valley Community Services Board.
The original Western State Hospital is now a planned community and a boutique hotel called, The Blackburn Inn. The hospital was moved twice since, and is now in a modern new facility near I-81.