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The Mental Health Association in Alaska (MHAA) is a Division of the National Mental Health Association and is dedicated to the promotion of good mental health, the prevention of mental illness and ongoing improvement in the care and treatment of the mentally ill through advocacy, education, referral, research, legislative input and the monitoring of existing programs.
MHAA received its Certificate of Incorporation as a public non-profit organization in September of 1964, although as an advocacy organization it had been in existence since 1953. Governed by a voluntary Board of Directors comprised of lay people, professionals and mental health consumers, MHAA is managed by a full time President/CEO and staffed with a Program Manager, Fundraising Manager and numerous volunteers.
Accomplishments and Goals
MHAA has been an instrumental leader in the State of Alaska in the development and growth of many fine mental health services. Through participation in the development of a state psychiatric hospital, community mental health centers, women's shelters, crisis centers, support groups and transitional living programs. The Alaskan mental health systems of care have been positively impacted by MHAA's grassroots advocacy.
MHAA monitors legislation and its potential for improvement. Within recent years MHAA has worked diligently towards the resolution of the Mental Health Trust Lands issue. An eight year legal struggle culminated with a new law establishing the Alaska Mental Health Board and a Mental Health Lands Trust designed to protect these funds in perpetuity. MHAA is currently involved in the process of negotiation with the State of Alaska over the value of the mental health lands and will stay with this issue until such time as the Mental Health Board and the Trust are securely established.
Positive policy changes and legislative actions require considerable amounts of dedication and energies over the long haul. MHAA has heralded other important mental health issues since 1953 and is now speaking up for prevention programs and a stronger focus on our youth because Alaska often takes the national lead in certain aberrations such as - youth suicide and sexual abuse. Also needed are expanded services for the mental health consumer in the form of pre and post hospitalization services, supported employment programs, both group and individual sheltered housing projects, respite care programs and efficient statewide crisis intervention services.
MHAA constantly battles the stigma associated with any form of mental or emotional illness people face in the course of their lives. From the consumer who requires short term counseling to one who may need long term services stigma can be a handicap for recovery. MHAA attempts to overcome stigma through an active and on-going public education process. Opportunities to educate the public about the prevalence of mental/emotional illnesses are seized in May for Mental Health Month and October for Mental Illness Awareness Month.
As the only broad based oranization in Alaska advocating for the mentally ill and the prevention of mental/emotional illness, MMHA will continue to lead for continued improvement of Alaska's mental health systems.
MHAA accepts membership donations from the general public and is also partially funded by project grants from the State of Alaska, Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities; the National Institute of Mental Health and various fundraising activities.
Mental Health Associationm in Alaska
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