Federal Community Mental Health Act Turns 60

From the October 31, 2023, press release of the Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI) commemorating the federal law laying foundation for Illinois’ Community Mental Health Act HB 708 approval in 1965

ACMHAI Recognizes the 60th Anniversary of the Community Mental Health Act

Springfield, Illinois- October 31st marks the 60th Anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s signing of the Community Mental Health Act. The Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI) recognizes the significance of this landmark bill that transformed mental health policy by promoting community-based services over institutionalization.

The Community Mental Health Act led to the closure of many state-run mental hospitals, as patients were transferred to community-based care. The Act also helped to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness by providing a more compassionate approach to care.

Illinois responded by passing House Bill 708, the Community Mental Health Act in 1965, which enabled the creation of mental health boards to carry out the provisions under the CMHA for the purposes of planning and funding mental health, developmental disability, and substance abuse services.

While both Acts led to important strides in mental health, the 60th anniversary serves as a reminder that more can be done at the state and national levels. ACMHAI believes that all individuals deserve the right to lead dignified lives and access to compassionate care. We will continue our efforts to strengthen the community-based mental health system across Illinois.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), announced $127.7 Million has been awarded to expand Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Across the United States. This action demonstrates the Biden Administration’s commitment to strengthening mental health care by enabling the expansion of services available to individuals and families in a community-based setting.


The Association of Community Mental Health Authorities of Illinois (ACMHAI pronounced “ack-my”), established in 1972 is a partnership of organizations committed to the concept of community behavioral health. This commitment is demonstrated by a shared respect and concern for citizens of our communities who experience mental illness, emotional disturbances, substance use disorders, and developmental disabilities.

For additional details please visit www.acmhai.org


The passage of Illinois’ HB 708, the Community Mental Health Act of 1965, laid the state’s statutory foundation for the passage of the 708 community mental health referendum in McHenry County, approved in 1967, which created the McHenry County Mental Health Board.

More information about the county’s Mental Health Board can be viewed here.


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