Human Relations Serice (HRS) was the first community mental health agency in the nation—not the first facility to treat psychiatric illness, but the first to adopt the mental health of a community as its mission and to provide systematic programs that foster coping.
It was founded in 1948 by Erich Lindemann, M.D., and a group of local citizens to apply the findings of Dr. Lindemann’s pioneering research in the areas of psychosomatic illness, grief, and crisis intervention. The cornerstone of his work was the then novel notion of prevention—that stress and suffering could be reduced by strengthening the natural bonds of family and community and the coping skills of caregivers (pediatricians, clergy, teachers), rather than waiting until problems required treatment. Much that is now standard in the treatment of grief, in crisis intervention, and in the practice of community mental health and consultation was developed at HRS by Lindemann and his colleagues.
Our future is challenging. The need for our specialties—high quality outpatient treatment, early intervention, and prevention—has never been greater. The mental health of children and families deteriorates steadily as social change and fragmentation pressure the stability of family and community alike.
However, changes in public policy and in patterns of health care and insurance make it harder for low and moderate income families to find and afford the services they need. The pressure on municipal budgets has constrained and reduced our subsidy base and the decline in reimbursement rates by insurers has seriously affected our fee income.
Funding service to residents whose needs are growing but who cannot afford the cost of care is an immediate and long-term challenge. So, too, is finding ways to reduce and prevent the very need for treatment itself. We remain vigorously committed to meeting these challenges, and to fulfilling our mission to support the health and well-being of the communities we serve.