History of Hanover Mental Health Association


More than 25 years ago, economic, social and medical conditions, particularly the development of powerful psychotropic medicines, converged to spawn a serious effort to empty and close large psychiatric hospitals. In order for people to leave those institutions, there needed to be alternative services available in their home communities to support their psychological well-being, growth and development.


At that time, many Community Service Boards, including the one in Hanover, were not funded sufficiently to provide needed services. The national and state mental health associations were encouraging their local chapters to get involved in direct services. As a result, Hanover Mental Health Association developed a psychosocial program that came to be known as the Sunrise House Program.


With the help of the community and the Richmond Chapter of United Way, we raised enough money to develop and house the program, and we entered into a contractual relationship with Hanover CSB.


The Sunrise House program was modeled after the most highly regarded program at that time, the Fountain House clubhouse, which began in New York City and spread to other communities throughout the United States.


We are incredibly proud of the Hanover citizens who contributed to United Way and supported the Sunrise House Ball and its successor, Friends of Hanover. It was this support that allowed us to pay the mortgage on Sunrise House and continue what became known as an exemplary program.


In 2004, HMHA and Hanover CSB began conversations to prepare for another change. As a result, in 2005, the CSB began operating the psychosocial program, moving it into another facility and renaming it RAFT House. The HMHA board then began a planning process, which led to the renovation of Sunrise House and plans for its use in new and important ways to continue serving the citizens of Hanover County.


In January 2010, we rededicated our house and created The Tom Hale III Education Center at Sunrise House as a place for educational, leadership, training and professional development programs for consumers, their families, professionals and the public.


As we enter this new phase of our history, we are proud to be supporting the educational, advocacy and leadership objectives of our parent organization, Mental Health AmericaVirginia, which uses Sunrise House for many of its programs. In addition, we are working in every way we can to reduce the stigma of mental illness and empower consumers to work toward recovery.


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