The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP) works to improve services for and treatment of adults with serious mental illness and children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders.
MHASP has a long history as an advocacy organization. It was incorporated in 1951 and serves Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties. Over the years, the Association has continually expanded its programs and initiatives to meet newly recognized needs, establishing statewide and national constituencies in the process. With the Mental Health and Aging Project, the Association now serves the full span of ages - from childhood to senior.
MHASP's executive director is Joseph A. Rogers, a nationally known advocate for the rights of people with mental illness.
MHASP is by far the largest of the country's 331 local mental health associations. In 1997, operating with a $10 million budget and a staff of more than 200, the association served 104,000 people through a variety of community based support programs in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. MHASP receives funding from the federal government, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the City of Philadelphia, United Way, foundations, and private contributors.
MHASP is an advocate for the rights of people with mental illness. The association played a leading role in forcing the state to close Philadelphia State Hospital in 1990 and Haverford State Hospital in 1998. Currently, it is involved in an ongoing class action suit intended to force the state to place Haverford residents, who now are residing at Norristown State Hospital, into appropriate community settings. These are people the state had already identified as eligible for such placements, but who continue to be kept in the hospital.
MHASP joined other mental health advocates in convincing the state to give counties the right to provide behavioral health care, and helped city agencies in Philadelphia develop a system for managing the delivery of that care. This resulted in the establishment of Community Behavioral Health, which administers $350 million a year in Medicaid funding and controls sensitive clinical decisions about behavioral health care. This non-profit agency serves an estimated 400,000 people.
MHASP is nationally recognized as a leader in creating community-based support programs to serve people who once resided in psychiatric institutions, or who might face confinement in an institution if community programs did not exist. The agency is committed to changing a 30-year-old system in which all too often people have been released from institutions, only to be dropped into a community without any support services.
MHASP programs include case management, vocational training and job placement, housing assistance, peer support and companionship, and life-skill training. MHASP also offers training and information for families of adults with mental illness and families of children with emotional and behavioral disorders, and advocacy for the elderly who suffer from depression or other mental illnesses.
MHASP is allied with the National Mental Health Self-Help Clearinghouse, which helps consumers around the country plan for, provide, and evaluate mental health and community-based support services. MHASP executive director Joseph A. Rogers is also executive director of the Clearinghouse.