Founded by Dr. Clarence M. Hincks and Clifford W. Beers in 1918, the national Canadian Mental Health Association began as the Canadian National Committee for Mental Hygiene. The co-founders were both individuals who had struggled with mental illness. Beers was author of a book entitled A Mind that Found Itself, which illustrated Beers’ own mental illness and the sometimes abusive treatment he had received. Within a very short time, through networking and the solicitation of prominent and respected figures to sit on the committee, Dr. Hincks formed within a few months an impressive list of committee members and supporters and, in the Fall of 1918, the committee established itself in Toronto.

World War II delayed progress in the development of a mental health network but, in 1948, the federal government established funding to assist the provinces in developing treatment facilities for people with mental illness. Research, services, and staffing expanded under this grant program over the ensuing decade. In 1950, the name of the organization was changed to the Canadian Mental Health Association. In 1952, the Ontario Division of CMHA obtained its provincial charter, and the formation of local branches began.

The Elgin Branch was founded in 1961 with a focus on providing community-based care to individuals discharged from the psychiatric hospital. It has grown over time to provide a wealth of supportive services to individuals with serious mental illness residing in Elgin County. The branch’s objective is to maintain and enhance our members’ quality of life and to support independence within their community. This work is carried out in collaboration with other community service providers to better meet the needs of service recipients.