Mental Health Corporations of America (MHCA)

April 5, 2013
was recently involved in two somewhat related events that were noteworthy in their own ways. This week I will be blogging about Mental Health Corporations of America (MHCA) and next week will follow up with the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) event in Auckland New Zealand.
First was the retirement of Don Hevey, CEO of MHCA. In case you don’t know, MHCA is an invitation only trade Association for CEOs of nonprofit community behavioral health organizations. Don has been the CEO of this organization since its inception in 1985. It has grown from a handful of CEOs who wanted an opportunity to meet with their peers who had similar views that community behavioral healthcare organizations or businesses and needed to be run as such. At the time, there was some resistance to this vision because the funding mechanisms for community behavioral health had been largely grant oriented. Under the Reagan Administration, block grants were introduced along with a significant cut in funding for community behavioral healthcare. MHCA was, in many ways, a direct response to these initiatives by the federal government.

MHCA always has been an organization that fostered an action orientation. In fact, Don’s favorite catchphrase is “We Can Do That”. There are numerous examples of this but one of the best is MHCA’s response to an insurance crisis in the 1980s. Commercial insurance companies were moving away from serving social service businesses. MHCA’s response was to develop its own insurance company for its members. That company called Mental Health Risk Retention Group (MHRRG) is now a for-profit subsidiary of MHCA selling insurance to the entire community.

Don was asked to serve as the CEO of MHCA when there was barely anything to work with. Since that time, MHCA has grown into one of the most highly respected trade associations in our industry. There are now approximately 130 members from 31 states participating. I was a member of MHCA for many years and served as its board chair. The goal for membership in MHCA was all about collaboration among CEOs of behavioral health organizations. As a member, I can remember giving and getting ideas and resources freely. It was a privilege to participate in MHCA and to serve on its board. It is a particular honor to serve with Don whose leadership is unmatched. So with your retirement Don we did you adieu and we wish Don’s successor, Dale Shreve, all the success in the world.

Next week, you will hear more about the seventh meeting of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) in Auckland New Zealand.