From Hope to Fulfillment

Journey Mental Health Center’s Community-Centered Care

Hope. What do you think of when you hear the word?

For Bill Greer it describes his 39-year career at Journey Mental Health Center (JMHC) from student intern to clinician to president and CEO.

“Every journey at our place starts with hope,” explains Greer, “and these people have the prospect of a life that’s fulfilling.”

In 2013, JMHC worked with 13,672 people, nearly 9,000 of whom received treatment. Most of those served were adults ages 19 to 39. And almost 1 in 5 was a child.

“We concentrate on keeping people in the community with a focus on minimizing inpatient stays. It’s important, because it helps them with their sense of hope and achievement,” says Greer.

In fact, he says there’s no reason for 99 percent of people to spend much if any time in an institution. But that community-centered care philosophy relies on a big staff. It takes 350 people and 50 volunteers to run nine sites around the Madison area. Those sites offer 32 different mental health and substance abuse programs, including a 24/7 emergency services program, community support programs (CSP), outpatient services and specialty services for specific populations such as the Hmong, African-American and Hispanic communities.

“We are following through on the vision that President Kennedy had in the ’60s when he established community mental health centers,” says Greer, “and that’s that folks would come out of the mental health institutions and into communities that support them and work with them to prevent recidivating.”

Part of that recovery is based on the philosophy that the client has to be the master of his or her own fate. Greer says that means the client has an equal voice with the staff member regarding treatment. They start with symptom control and then move on to the client’s dreams and goals and how JMHC can help them achieve that.

“Research shows that when you involve people that way, they move toward self-sufficiency and their self-worth is enhanced,” says Greer.

While Greer says he is proud of JMHC’s work in the Madison area, he has two major concerns. First, because the federal government provides more money than before, many agencies are competing for the funding.

“It’s important that the folks who have been providing services through the lean times not be squeezed out,” Greer says.

The second concern, he says, is the shortage of practitioners, especially psychiatrists, and particularly in rural areas.

Journey Mental Health Center is working to expand some hospital diversion services to Iowa, Sauk, Dodge and Rock Counties to help meet the need.

For contacts, to make a donation and to learn more about JMHC services, visit

– Leigh Mills, NBC 15 News Anchor

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