Who We Are

Western Montana Mental Health Center is Montana's largest community mental health center. We serve well over 15,000 clients per year with almost 800 staff in 16 counties. We offer a broad continuum of care from community-based services to outpatient services to inpatient addiction recovery services. We offer children's programs, adult programs and addiction services. Both the Recovery Center Missoula and Flagship After School Program are wholly-owned departments of Western Montana Mental health Center.

Western Montana Mental Health Center accepts Medicare, Medicaid, Healthy Montana Kids Plus, Healthy Montana Kids (CHIP), most health insurance, and payment based on a sliding fee. Services will not be denied due to race, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation or inability to pay.

Governance: Western Operates as a not-for-profit, tax-exempt, public purpose corporation (501)(c)(3). The Board of Directors meets monthly to assure effective governance and administration of all Center interests. The public is invited to attend meetings. Participating counties include: Flathead, Sanders, Lake, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, Granite, Powell, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Gallatin, Madison and Park.

Services: Western Montana Mental Health Center provides services in 15 counties in western and southwestern Montana. Programs include case management, crisis response teams in the major population centers, crisis stabilization facilities, adult and youth group homes, day treatment, drop in centers, vocational services, outpatient, medical outpatient, independent living and chemical dependency outpatient treatment. Western has moved in recent years to development and operation of various housing programs to help insure adequate and affordable housing options for the consumers it serves.

Programs are increasingly dedicated to the following service populations:

• adults with a serious mental illness
• adults with substance use problems
• youth with serious emotional disturbances
• youth with substance use problems
• veterans eligible for mental health care under a special VA contract
• individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use problems

School-Based Programs: Western also offers school-based programs, prevention services and comprehensive school and community treatment programs in multiple public school districts. The largest segment of the Center’s finances come from Medicaid and contracts with the Montana State Department of Public Health and Human Services. County government remains integrally involved in the governance of Western and is a significant funding source for local programs.

Western Montana Addiction Services: In 2001, the Board of Directors chartered a separate subsidiary corporation for purposes of oversight and development of substance abuse treatment services called Western Montana Addiction Services(WMAS). WMAS provides services in Missoula, Ravalli, Mineral Counties. In addition, Western opened Recovery Center Missoula as an inpatient and outpatient addiction recovery program.

The board has authorized the establishment of two client housing development corporations (Garden City Community Housing Development Organization and the Flathead-Lake Community Housing Development Organization), which continue to operate as subsidiary corporations of Western.

History: Originally, the State Department of Institutions funded and administered five community mental health clinics in the state. One of the clinics was located in Missoula and was housed in the basement of the Student Health Center at the University of Montana. This clinic, with a staff of six, was responsible for serving the counties of Western Montana. Services were almost exclusively outpatient and, due to the limited staff, outreach efforts throughout the Region were very minimal. The expectation was that clients would commute to Missoula where services would be provided within the clinic. There are old records suggesting that the clinic opened in 1942. Employees of this clinic were all staff members of the State of Montana and they answered directly to the superintendent of the Warm Springs State Hospital. There was considerable isolation of the staff as direct contact with the State Hospital was minimal.

Federal Involvement: Montana's interest in the development of comprehensive community mental health centers was sparked by the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health that was established by Congress under the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. Montana received funds to study its mental health needs and resources, and for a five-year period, effort was devoted towards the development of a plan which would provide effective services to the residents of Montana. With the passage of federal staffing and construction grant programs by Congress in 1963, the Montana State legislature passed complementary bills which enabled the State to become a responsible partner with the federal government in the establishment of regional mental health centers. Five mental health regions were established within the state and Boards, comprised of a county commissioner from each county within the Region, designated as the authority for governance of the community-based mental health programs. On July 15, 1969, the Western Montana Regional Community Mental Health Center Board submitted to the National Institute of Mental Health an application requesting federal staffing grant funds under the provision of Public Law 89-105. The program was approved on September 1, 1969. Western initiated services on January 1, 1971, utilizing local, state, and federal funds. Offices were opened in Ravalli, Lake, Sanders, Flathead and Lincoln Counties, in addition to the existing Missoula-based outpatient office. The original (1971) staff numbered 20 including: 11 clinicians; 7 clerical workers; a business manager, and regional director.