The History of
Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center
The Comprehensive Behavioral Health Center was founded in February 1957 by a group of private citizens in collaboration with the St. Clair County Mental Health Association. This was the beginning of a vision to provide outpatient mental health services to the community. Housed in the First Illinois Bank building in downtown East St. Louis and staffed with a Medical Director, Therapist and Secretary; the Center launched a beginning that would span over more than a half century.
Today, The Center has expanded to include an array of services that are located throughout East St. Louis, Belleville and Fairview Heights. The Center also employs more that 140 staff to carry out its mission as approved by the Board of Directors.
The State of Illinois’ thrust to de-institutionalize services to the mentally ill in the mid sixties created a unique opportunity to expand community-based services. The Center rose to the challenge and added Crisis Intervention and Sustaining Care (after hospitalization) Services to meet the needs of the community.
Soon a growing need for services to adult consumers with a developmental disability gave way to the establishment of a Day Program designed to enhance the daily life skills of that growing population.
The Center would later receive a federal grant to upgrade the main facility at 3909-3911 State Street in the mid seventies. This enhancement ensured that the Center would meet state and federal building safety codes and requirements for expanded services.
As the need continued to grow for mental health services, the Center responded by opening a satellite office in Centerville Township to improve accessibility to the community.
In 1980, the initial planning began for the construction of a new facility, funded by the Department of Housing & Urban Development, to provide supervised housing for the chronically mentally ill. This effort would add a new dimension to service provision. The outcome was the construction of the Center For Independent Living Facility.
Recognizing the need to continually improve services, the Center sought funding through the State of Illinois Community Block Grant in 1981 to expand existing mental health services. In addition, this funding would allow the Center to provide specialized services to the elderly and children/adolescent.
The closing of the community-based Alcohol and Drug Treatment facility in 1981 created a serious void for the community. The Center responded to the community’s need by adding the Alcohol and Substance Abuse component to its array of services in 1982. A number of initiatives would spring forward that effort, including the following:
- The Serenity House (A Halfway House for Women)
- ARTS House (Halfway House for Men)
- Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Specialized Services
- (ATOD Prevention Services)
- SMARTS (Inpatient Treatment Facility)
- Prevention Services to Youth
- HIV Testing & Counseling
- Specialized Services to Women
The need to provide support to parenting teens in 1984 started The Center’s Parenting For Success Program. This program has expanded over the years and continue to be funded by the Ounce of Prevention Foundation.
The need for adequate and supportive housing continues to be a challenge for The Center’s consumers. There are currently six (6) sites that are scattered throughout East St. Louis, Belleville, and Fairview Heights to address the housing needs of our consumers.
The Center has continued to grow and develop through the years and aggressively seeks to address the behavioral healthcare needs of the community. This is evidenced by The Center’s commitment to providing “evidence-based treatment” services to its consumers. Several programs that were based upon this methodology are Psycho-Social Rehabilitation (PSR) and Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Services.
The Center currently services more than two thousand consumers. In addition, The Center works collaboratively with a host of other community agencies to strengthen and support consumer services.
The continued support of fraternal and other social organizations in the form of volunteer involvement and donations enhance the outreach to consumers and broaden our understanding of the needs of the community.
A major milestone for The Center will be the construction of its new campus style complex which is to begin construction by the end of the year. It is slated to become the cornerstone of the City of East St. Louis’ new Medical Park District.
The coming years are filled with the anticipation of exciting challenges in the delivery of behavioral healthcare services. The Board of Directors, Administration and staff are committed to the provision of quality and individualized services to every person that walks through our doors as we strive to fulfill our vision to become the top-ranking community behavioral healthcare center of its size, population and category within the State of Illinois.
As we contemplate the present needs of our consumers, while moving towards our vision for the future, we must also celebrate and honor our past – a past that is rich with the kind of grace that helps to sustain a community. We cherish the flames that continue to burn in the hearts of those who have served with passion and have passed the torch in anticipation of what lies ahead. Their legacies will never be forgotten.