Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis merges with Families First

Published: September 15, 2016

Families First and Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis (MHA Indy) officially joined forces on September 1. The decision was driven by a 2015 change in Mental Health America’s national structure, which placed two MHA affiliates in the same county service area. MHA Indy also conducted a year-long financial and operational assessment and strategic planning effort, leading the nonprofit to agree to unite under the umbrella of Families First. By joining forces, Families First strengthens its mental health offerings for families and both organizations fulfill their mission of delivering critical human services.

“Our missions are similar and complementary, said David Siler, CEO of Families First. “ For decades, Families First created healthier communities in Indianapolis by strengthening families and individuals during life challenges and changes. And, many of these challenges and changes faced by those we serve are brought about or made more difficult due to mental health issues. MHA Indy, during the past 65 years, has also worked to create healthier communities by educating and promoting good mental health through education, advocacy and intervention.”

Siler added that “blending our expertise to serve some of our most vulnerable community members should multiply our impact. With the increasing levels of violence, the high rate of suicide and increasing drug abuse, there could not be a better time to come together to be a part of the needed solutions to these very complex issues facing our communities. And, we will be able to do so at a reduced cost after combining some of our overhead and administrative expenses.”

Families First and MHA Indy are supported financially in part by United Way of Central Indiana. “Both agencies have provided essential services and resources to our community,” said Ann Murtlow, President/CEO of United Way of Central Indiana, in support of the organizations’ decision to merge. “We are confident that the transition of programming from MHA of Greater Indianapolis to Families First will be smooth, and the public will continue to receive services without interruption.”

Five members of the MHA Indy board will transfer to the Families First board. “It’s difficult for volunteer boards to come to the decision to close,” says Nancy Dillon, President of the Board of Directors of MHA Indy. “But the most important thing for us was that services needed in the community would remain; and we didn’t have to operate independently to do that.”

All Families First and MHA Indy services, program staff leadership and volunteers will continue working together in the combined organization to meet their clients’ needs, while offering even more resources and greater community outreach. In addition, Families First has become an Associate Member of Mental Health America, granting it continued access to education and advocacy efforts.

“Excellence in service is a longstanding value of both organizations, and we are committed to ensuring there is no disruption or reduction in access to services,” said Siler. “A seamless transition of services under the one name of Families First is expected to be complete by the end of the year.”

Reflecting on the future, Dillon says, “We are confident that we have found in Families First a well-respected and successful organization that will continue to carry out the mission for many years to come.”

About Families First

Founded in 1835, Families First is the oldest not-for-profit social service organization in our community. Guided by the belief that healthy families are the building blocks of a strong community, Families First works to create healthier communities by strengthening families and individuals during life challenges and changes. Each year more than 8,000 individuals turn to Families First for hope and healing. A broad array of services are offered to address the challenges of parenting, family conflict, trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, mental health issues, and the needs of older and challenged adults. Families First is fully accredited by the national Council on Accreditation (COA), attesting that it meets the highest standards of professional performance. Services are provided in the homes of clients, at various community sites, and through offices in Indianapolis, Lebanon and Greenfield.

About Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis

Founded in 1945, Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis has been the leading nonprofit in Indianapolis dedicated to helping ALL people live mentally healthier lives. Mental Health America of Greater Indianapolis was an affiliate of the national Mental Health America.