Agency History

Journey Mental Health Center has always held a strong commitment to developing innovative services, seeking creative partnerships, and being responsive to community needs. Even as a demonstration project in 1944 (the first year statutes allowed local governmental units to support child guidance clinics from tax funds), the mission stressed the importance of coordinating efforts within the child’s community and emphasized the importance of partnering and integrating the family into services. In addition, clinicians teamed with other community service providers, such as public health, to provide community screening and educational services. Therefore, by the time we incorporated as a private non-profit in 1948, the agency had already distinguished itself by diversifying its services, partners and funding.

Historical Markers:


  • One of the first private non-profit child guidance centers in the state of Wisconsin to seek and receive public funding, thus establishing a model for future collaborations between the private/public sector.
1950s — 1960s
  • The organization played a significant role in community education/prevention, including radio and televised educational programs — some running for 20 years. In fact, one program was considered the second most popular series on Wisconsin Educational TV.
  • Developed a Spanish newsletter and radio show, providing the Hispanic/Latino community an important resource.
  • Played a key role in developing Dane County’s comprehensive community-based mental health services for adults with serious persistent mental illnesses, including a 24-hour mobile crisis intervention service, after a panel of three federal judges declared Wisconsin’s commitment laws to be unconstitutional.
  • Awarded a Law Enforcement Assistance Act Grant to develop an innovative drug treatment program, combing the efforts of law enforcement and counseling staff. In addition, merger of alcohol and drug services gives agency the first combined substance abuse treatment program in Wisconsin.
  • National Institute of Mental Health identifies Dane County service system as a “model community support program” and designates the Mental Health Center as the National CSP Resource Center for the United States based on their role/expertise in the service system.
  • Wisconsin’s OWI statues undergo a major overhaul with the passage of Chapter 20. Judges are required to refer convicted intoxicated drivers for mandatory, court-ordered, alcohol and drug abuse assessment. These actions have significant impact, both at the time and in the future, on agency assessment and treatment services.
  • Recognized by the National Institute of Mental Health as a leader in providing innovate outreach to services to seniors and chosen to be a national training site.
  • The agency is rated as a model community mental health center by E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., and Sidney M. Wolfe, M.D., leaders of the Public Citizen Health Research Group. The pair also rates the state of Wisconsin number one for care of adults with mental illness. This rating comes about primarily on the basis of comprehensive community-based mental health programs in Dane County and because Dane County spends far less per person on mental health than most states.
1980s — 2000s
  • Agency collectively developed a set of principles to reflect the agency’s values and purpose, guiding us in our collaboration with individuals/families, local churches, refugee centers, neighborhood houses, ethnic groups, community agencies, schools, health services, AIDS networks, county jail, courts, other providers, funders, etc. JMHC’s principles provide an array of recovery focused and culturally competent mental health and substance abuse services to Dane County’s growing population.
  • A $2.5 million four-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation allows the  agency’s youth/family services to create a nationally recognized, and duplicated wrap around system of care for youth with serious emotional disabilities – a system that promotes the natural resources and strengths of families.
  • First in the state to employ a Fountain House Model for day treatment services. It is recognized by the Wisconsin State Legislature as one of the most successful psychiatric rehabilitation programs, and is certified by the International Center for Clubhouse Development.
  • Awarded a $1.6 million, four-year federal grant to improve treatment services for children and adolescents who have experienced trauma, thus joining a new coalition of treatment centers across the country dedicated to addressing the profound, destructive, and widespread impact of trauma on the lives of youth.

… for more historical makers, see 55th Year Historical Report