MHANYS’ history reaches back to the late 1800s. The organization is a descendent of the State Charities Aid Association (SCAA) of New York State. (This agency is still active today and goes by the name Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.) In 1951 the Committee on Mental Health of the SCAA was reorganized as the New York State Society for Mental Health (NYSSMH). In 1960 the NYSSMH was incorporated as the New York State Association for Mental Health, Inc., which subsequently became the Mental Health Association in New York, State, Inc. (MHANYS).

On September 15, 1960, NYSSMH filed a certificate of incorporation with the state of New York that created the New York State Association for Mental Health, Inc. (NYSAMH). As a successor organization to NYSSMH, it served as the New York State division of the National Association for Mental Health (NAMH) and as the parent organization for regional mental health associations across the state. One of the organization’s initial goals was to form in every county of New York State a Mental Health Association in which any citizen could enroll. By 1970, 42 local chapters (covering more than half of the counties of the state, and about 75% of its population) were affiliated with NYSAMH.

The initial emphases of NYSAMH and its local chapters included improved care and treatment of institutionalized patients; services for facilities for rehabilitation and aftercare; treatment, schooling, and special care for children with emotional disturbances; community-based mental health facilities and services; and preventative mental health efforts and education in the community.

In October 1980 the organization was renamed as the Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc.(MHANYS). The purpose of the organization was to develop a citizens’ voluntary movement to work towards improved care and treatment of the mentally ill, the prevention of mental illness and the promotion of mental health. This purpose has been a consistent part of the MHA movement. MHANYS and its affiliates have played a major role in the reforms of the mental health system over these years including the empowerment of the Recipient and Family Movements, Timothy’s Law, Reinvestment, Housing and Community Services Funding, Prison Reform, Suicide Prevention, Veterans’ Mental Health and much more.

Our organization is comprised of 26 affiliates in 50 counties throughout New York State.