Mission & Vision

NABH advocates for behavioral healthcare and represents provider systems that are committed to the delivery of responsive, accountable, and clinically effective prevention, treatment and care for children, adolescents, adults, and older adults with mental and substance use disorders.

The NABH vision is of a society that values and maximizes the potential of all its citizens by helping them to achieve overall health. To achieve healthy communities, behavioral health will be recognized, respected, and allocated resources with fairness and equity as part of overall health.

We believe:

  • Behavioral healthcare associations must be united in advocacy goals to successfully improve Americans’ access to, coverage for, and outcomes in behavioral healthcare treatment.
  • Leaders must create a climate in which competing association efforts are coordinated, advocacy messages are strengthened, and services for clients/consumers are improved.
  • NABH must remain flexible so that it can work toward this vision.


The National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH) represents provider systems that treat children, adolescents, adults, and older adults with mental health and substance use disorders in inpatient behavioral healthcare hospitals and units, residential treatment facilities, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, medication assisted treatment centers, specialty outpatient behavioral healthcare programs, and recovery support services in 49 states and Washington, D.C. The association was founded in 1933.


1933: Nine physicians establish the National Association of Private Psychiatric Hospitals (NAPPH) at the end of the American Psychiatric Association Meeting

1958: NAPPH changes to hospital membership from physician membership

1964: NAPPH elects Cornelia B. Wilbur, M.D. as the association’s first female president

1966: NAPPH works with the American Psychiatric Association’s Joint Information of Service to develop a working definition of a psychiatric hospital

1974: NAPPH moves headquarters to Washington, D.C.

1978: NAPPH elects first non-physician president (Ralph Barnette), beginning a tradition of alternating administrators and clinicians in the role

1978: NAPPH forms Political Action Committee (PAC)

1983: General hospitals move to a prospective payment system under Medicare from a cost-based system

1984: NAPPH wins a seat on the Joint Commission’s HAP/Professional and Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC) and appoints Ken Gaver, M.D. as the first representative

1985: NAPPH direct mail campaign aims to educate major employers about the importance of mental health coverage

1988: Ad in Washington Journalism Review highlights NAPPH’s role as a source of behavioral health information

1989: NAPPH releases national opinion survey called Teenagers at Risk to provide a snapshot of adult perceptions of adolescent problems and barriers to seeking help; news coverage follows in outlets that include the CBS Evening News and the Associated Press

1990-1991: An NAPPH-led coalition of 20 national health, military and veterans’ organizations is successful in delaying the implementation and reducing the scope of proposed CHAMPUS mental health cuts as the Gulf War continues to affect military families

1992: As a member of the Coalition for Mental Healthcare Reform, NAPPH joins 33 mental health groups in issuing principles for any national health program

1993: NAPPH issues its own proposal for healthcare reform: A Comprehensive Mental Healthcare Reform Proposal and is the first organization to present a mental healthcare reform plan to the White House Task Force Work Group on Mental Health

1993: NAPPH becomes the National Association of Psychiatric Health Systems (NAPHS) 

1997: NAPHS Board establishes the Committee on Behavioral Health Services within General Healthcare Systems

1997: NAPHS commissions study to fight provisions in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that would compound negative Medicare margins of many psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric units of general hospitals exempted from the Medicare prospective payment system.

1999: The Association of Behavioral Group Practices (ABGP) merges with NABH, further expanding the Association’s representation of the continuum of care.

2004: The Joint Commission teams with NAPHS, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMPD) and NRI to launch hospital-based inpatient psychiatric services (HBIPS) core measures initiative

2004: NAPHS serves as lead organization to shape and implement the psychiatric prospective payment system, or IPPS; final rule is published in November

2006: NAPHS collaborates with the National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health to release Medicaid: Principles for Treatment of Children and Youth with Emotional and Substance Use Disorders

2013: NAPHS releases white paper on association’s recommendations for responding to the Sandy Hook tragedy

2018: NAPHS becomes the National Association for Behavioral Healthcare (NABH)