The Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations (TAMHO) is a statewide trade association representing Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) and other non-profit corporations that provide behavioral health services. These organizations have historically met the needs of mentally ill and chemically dependent citizens of Tennessee from all age groups and socioeconomic levels. The TAMHO member organizations have been the virtual cornerstone of the community-based behavioral health system throughout the state since the 1950s and today serve as the primary provider network for the TennCare Program, Tennessee's Medicaid waiver program.
The TAMHO mission is to serve its members, promote the advancement of effective behavioral health services, and advocate for people in need of care. To achieve this mission, the TAMHO Board of Directors formulates an agenda each year that is designed to improve the effectiveness of treatment and support services for the mentally ill and to increase access to these services throughout the state.
As a means of carrying such an agenda forward, working committees, task forces, and professional membership sections bring together over 400 staff of TAMHO member organizations on a regular basis to identify problems and issues from a provider perspective and to formulate recommendations for effectively addressing them. Organizational policy serves to guide the actions of those TAMHO representatives who work closely with other state and national associations, advocacy organizations, and managed care companies in an effort to advance effective behavioral health services and advocate for people in need of care throughout Tennessee.
These organizations include the following:
Founded in 1958 as the Tennessee Association of Mental Health Centers (TAMHC), the organization initially represented eleven community mental health centers that were supported largely through federal staffing grants by the mid-1960s. In 1971, TAMHC was incorporated and its membership had expanded to nineteen community mental health centers; by 1983, membership included thirty-three community mental health centers. The name of the organization was changed in 1995 to the Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations (TAMHO), action that was taken in response to the development of broader corporate structures by the member organizations as mergers an affiliations began to occur.
The TAMHO membership has responded to unprecedented change in the behavioral health arena during the past decade, yet it has remained true to the community-focused mission that has been important to thousands of Tennessee consumers and families for over forty years. From 1990-1995, the TAMHO member organizations re-engineered the service continuum to provide state-of-the-art community support programs for the severely and persistently mentally ill. Supported by grants from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (TDMHMR) and a newly-instituted Medicaid fee-for-service payment system offering differential rates, services such as targeted case management, psychosocial rehabilitation, and supported employment programs became available to consumers throughout the state. The work of the TAMHO member organizations during this period made it possible for the State to implement the Mental Health Master Plan, one of the most successful program initiatives for the mentally ill in Tennessee history.
With the advent of the TennCare Partners Program in 1996, the TAMHO member organizations faced a drastic paradigm shift as the historical leadership role played by TDMHMR in developing state-level behavioral health policy was transferred to private managed behavioral health companies. Within a very short period of time, the CMHC system was reconfigured to provide a more efficient and effective provider network for contracting with the TennCare Partners Program managed behavioral health companies. While three regional "megacenters" were created through mergers, two other CMHCs became a part of major acute care healthcare/hospital systems, and others remained independent. Each individual corporation thus focused on providing the right mix of high quality behavioral health services as efficiently s possible within its respective market area. The efforts made to respond to the State's "privatization" of behavioral health services and prepare for functioning within a managed care model resulted in the TAMHO member organizations serving as the primary provider network for the TennCare Partners Program managed care companies. Today, there continues to be available through the statewide network of TAMHO member organizations a wide range of behavioral health services and programs. Many TAMHO member organizations have expanded services, particularly in the children's and geriatric services areas, all the while continuing to provide the core of the service continuum that had been proven to be effective under the Mental Health Master Plan. Over 220,000 adults and children receive services from TAMHO member organizations each year at one of more than 235 sites throughout the state.