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A Historical look at Behavioral Health and Developmental Services

The first residential program in the United States developed specifically for persons who were experiencing serious mental health symptoms was established in Williamsburg over 200 years ago. An international movement to provide services to individuals who needed more assistance than their families were able to provide at home followed it. Unfortunately the facilities that were created were neither effective nor appropriate.

We learned through our national experience that the institutionalization of individuals with serious mental illness and/or intellectual disabilities was not the answer. It was through the advocacy and leadership of John F. Kennedy’s administration, and the actions of Congress in the 1960’s, that our country was charged with developing a community mental health system that would be effective and accessible to all America.

The Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services Board was established in February, 1969 by Ms. Isabel Amorous Palmer and Mr. William T. Stevens. It was the first multi-jurisdictional community services board chartered and was eventually renamed to its current, “Region Ten Community Services Board” to give appropriate recognition to our service area and the four participating rural counties – Fluvanna, Greene, Nelson and Louisa. There are now 40 community services boards serving every city and county in Virginia. They operate under the auspices of the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual Disabilities in Richmond.