About Us


Founded in 1959 and based in Alexandria, VA, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) represents the $41 billion public mental health service delivery system serving 7.5 million people annually in all 50 states, 4 territories, and the District of Columbia. NASMHPD (pronounced "NASH-bid") is the only national association to represent state mental health commissioners/directors and their agencies.


NASMHPD will work with states, federal partners, and stakeholders to promote wellness, recovery, and resiliency for individuals with mental health conditions or co-occurring mental health and substance related disorders across all ages and cultural groups, including: youth, older persons, veterans and their families, and people under the jurisdiction of the court. NASMHPD informs its members on current and emerging public policy issues, educates on research findings and best practices, provides consultation and technical assistance, collaborates with key stakeholders, and facilitates state to state sharing.  NASMHPD’s vision is that mental health is universally perceived as essential to overall health and well-being with services that are available, accessible, and of high quality. Wellness, resiliency and recovery are the overall goals and certain fundamental values guide NASMHPD in its mission:

  • Human rights and health equity
  • Health and wellness
  • Recovery-oriented and person-centered system
  • Empowerment
  • Community education
  • Least restrictive and most integrated setting
  • Zero suicide
  • Working collaboratively
  • Effective and efficient management and accountability
  • Culturally and linguistically responsive
  • High quality workforce capacity

NASMHPD members play a vital role in the delivery, financing, and evaluation of mental health services within a rapidly evolving healthcare environment. The principal programs operated, funded, and/or regulated by NASMHPD members serve people who have serious mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and/or substance use disorders. This role impacts many other constituencies as well. In recognition of these mutual interests, NASMHPD has effectively responded to, and collaborated with, other organizations and individuals including those representing consumers, families, and state mental health planning and advisory councils. The association provides members with the opportunity to exchange diverse views and experiences and learn from one another in areas vital to effective public policy development and implementation.

As a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) membership organization, NASMHPD helps set the agenda and determine the direction of state mental health agency interests across the country, historically including state mental health planning, service delivery, and evaluation. The association provides members with the opportunity to exchange diverse views and experiences, learning from one another in areas vital to effective public policy development and implementation. NASMHPD provides a broad array of services designed to identify and respond to critical policy issues, cutting-edge consultation, training, and technical assistance, and together with the NASMHPD Research Institute, Inc., a partner organization, apprises constituents of the latest in mental health research in administration and services delivery. Some of the areas in which NASMHPD staff combine their expertise with members and other key constituents include: advancing intergovernmental cooperation; promoting efficient and effective management strategies; supporting state, local, and jurisdictional relationships and activities; providing policy analysis and development, technical assistance, and training in critical areas of policy and practice; responding effectively to changing organizational, practice, and finance trends; and identifying and sharing models of excellence on a myriad of topics and issues.

Structure of NASMHPD

In addition to representing the viewpoint of State Mental Health Commissioners and Directors, NASMHPD has 4 divisions comprised of directors of special populations/services (Children, Youth & Families; Forensic; Legal; and Older Persons) as well as a Finance Policy Division and a Medical Directors Council. NASMHPD also has formal affiliations with the National Coalition on Mental Health and Deaf Individuals (NCMHDI),a non-profit corporation established in 2008 to provide leadership and support in the areas of public mental health and deaf and hard of hearing populations in the United States; the Multi-State Behavioral Health Consortium, a nationwide collaboration between State Mental Health Agencies to foster dialogue and cooperation in the area of disaster and mental health services; and the Cultural and Linguistic competence Coordinator's Network for State and Terriorial Behavioral health Services (State CLC Coordinator's Network).

NASMHPD has an affiliation with the approximately 195 state psychiatric hospitals located throughout the United States. The facilities include hospitals for children, adults, older persons, and people who have entered the mental health system via the court system. In addition, NASMHPD has helped establish the following regional organizations, each of which meet annually: the Southern States Psychiatric Hospital Association (SSPHA) and the Western Psychiatric State Hospital Association (WPSHA).

NASMHPD Research Institute, Inc. (NRI)  

In its early days, NASMHPD maintained a research division that was reconstituted in 1987 as the NASMHPD Research Institute, Inc. (NRI), a separate non-profit organization. The mission of the NRI is to promote quality and accountability of mental health services by generating and facilitating the use of relevant research, data, and information that meets the collective and individual needs of state mental health agencies.

Technical Assistance

NASMHPD manages a diverse portfolio of programs focused on effectively identifying and responding to the training and technical assistance needs of an array of entities, including:  state and local mental health agencies and other systems serving persons with mental health needs; provider organizations; consumers; families; planning and advisory councils; and systems of higher learning. This assistance covers a variety of administrative, policy, financial, clinical, and program areas. Examples of frequently-addressed topics include:  the prevention of coercive practices, such as seclusion and restraint; the planning and implementation of evidence-based practices; successfully achieving the goals of the Federal Mental Health Block Grant Program; promoting an understanding of the impact of trauma and the need for trauma-informed care; clinical protocols and program design that support recovery and enhance resilience for individuals across the lifespan; financing strategies, including Medicaid; workforce development; cross-system collaboration; strategic planning; and consumer empowerment, including the use of consumer-directed care and the expansion of meaningful roles for consumers in all stages of program/service planning, delivery, and evaluation. 


Meetings and WebinarsPublicationsTechnical AssistancePolicy