The McNabb Center and the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee (MHAET) are celebrating 75 years this year. Ben Harrington, CEO of MHAET, sat down with McNabb’s Community Relations team to talk about our shared history.
Can you tell me about the connection between McNabb and the Mental Health Association (MHA)?
The founding of the McNabb Center and the MHAET are parallel. Clifford Beers, who is considered the founder of the modern mental health movement, helped establish the national MHA after a stay at a mental institution in 1900. He established a mental health clinic in Connecticut which eventually became the Mental Health Association. MHAET was established as an affiliate of MHA in 1948 by Helen Ross McNabb. Both Helen Ross McNabb and Clifford Beers were moved by their exposure to conditions at mental health hospitals and decided to make a change in their communities.
How have you seen mental health needs change, and what have McNabb/MHAET done to meet those needs?
At first, mental health was focused on incarceration or asylum. Advancements were made to start treating people in hospitals and releasing them back into the community. This led to intervening before people entered the hospital altogether. The goal now is to keep people in their communities. Over the last 29 years at MHAET, our goal is, “how do we deflect people from inpatient care and avoid that high level of cost.”
We’ve got to be so proud that we live today and that we’ve been made to make thoughtful differences and help people every day.
To read more about the Mental Health Association of East Tennessee’s history and their work, visit their website https://www.mhaet.com/about-us/history/. The McNabb Center is proud to partner with Ben and the MHAET to meet the mental health needs of our region.
Ben Harrington, CEO of MHAET