Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Inc. (ACMHS) was established on June 11, 1974 as a private not-for-profit corporation to provide treatment for people with mental illness in the Anchorage area, initially led by four Board Members: Jon Baker, John Beard, James Hotchkiss and James Smith.
The governance of ACMHS developed in the 1970’s and remains today as a board of directors consisting of fifteen (15) volunteers from the community. The company is operated by a Chief Executive Officer who is selected by the Board of Directors.
ACMHS has a history of trying to meet the needs of those impacted by mental illness. This was first captured in the company’s logo developed in 1978. It was envisioned as a tree offering shelter and refuge.
ACMHS has been financed through a combination of public and private grants, through revenues generated from fees for services and donations. Over the years, the company’s growth included many funding and program changes in addition to facility changes. Initial federal funding was supplanted by state funding primarily in the form of grants until 1992. The State of Alaska began utilizing Medicaid as a key payer of services and has done so since 1992. The state supplemented services by providing grants to serve persons not eligible for Medicaid or without other forms of health insurance prior to Medicaid Expansion in 2015. State grants continue to be utilized to establish new programs and services, and to supplement low Medicaid reimbursement rates.
The Alaska Child Trauma Center was established in 2005 as a National Child Traumatic Stress Network site. The Trauma Center has become a statewide, national and international leader in advancing trauma informed care for all services for children and youth and integrated dual diagnosis training for all adult service providers.
In September 2013, Fairbanks Community Mental Health Services opened as a program of ACMHS after a previous mental health provider in Fairbanks declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. FCMHS operated as a program of ACMHS with shared administrative staff and common policies and procedures. Operations in Anchorage and Fairbanks were fully integrated under a common leadership structure over 2019 and 2020.
In July 2014, Alaska Youth Advocates became a program of ACMHS after approval by the Board of Directors of ACMHS, Inc and it’s Alaska Youth and Parent Foundation board. AYA was originally established in 1972 to assist homeless youth in Anchorage who were living with limited family support. AYA has operated the POWER Center youth drop in program for many years, and in 2020 changed its name to the POWER Center.
Alaska Seeds of Change began operations in November 2016, as a vocational training program for transition age youth (ages 16-23) in an indoor hydroponic farm.
In 2020, the Board updated our mission statement: “To strengthen Alaska communities and improve the lives of our clients by delivering exceptional behavioral healthcare services.” Effective June 1, 2020, we began doing business as Alaska Behavioral Health to better reflect the geographies we serve and services we provide.
We believe all Alaskans, with all mental health and addiction needs should have access to the best possible care. We are proud to be part of a dedicated team committed to ending the stigma around mental health and helping our clients change their lives for the better.