The Vermont Association for Mental Health is a citizen's organization working to promote mental health and mental health services.

We are primarily supported by 1,000 me
mbers who represent a broad spectrum of Vermonters.

For nearly six decades, Vermont Association for Mental Health has worked to promote "mental wellness" in Vermont. Since 1981 when VAMH hired its current director, Ken Libertoff, the organization has expanded its vision and increased production in areas ranging from public educational activities, conferences and seminars, to provision of referral services and the dissemination of timely and relevant published materials. More dramatically, the Association has made a concentrated effort to become a true citizen's voice, a public and pronounced voice, on all critical mental and behavioral health issues.

VAMH has worked hard to become an active player and public voice in the creation and implementation of social policies and in the promotion of advocacy efforts. For the past decade and a half, the Association has been engaged in many important legislative initiatives that have emanated in and around the Statehouse. They include the promotion of funding support for self-help programs for consumers and parents, access to quality community-based services for Vermont citizens, a reduction in reliance on the Vermont State Hospital and expanded funding for all major components of public mental health systems. The expansion of children's mental health services has always been an important priority with dramatic improvement since the mid-1980's. In more recent years, the Association has assumed a leadership role in health care reform efforts, particularly in the field of mental health.

In 1994, VAMH successfully promoted one of the first mental health managed care regulatory bills in the country, when Vermont passed the Mental Health Utilization Review bill. This measure mandated that all mental health utilization review agents be registered with the state, created a responsive grievance procedure for consumers and practitioners and established an independent review panel composed of seven mental health practitioners who are empowered to make final decisions on unresolved grievances appeals.

After more than a decade-long civil rights battle to end discriminatory practices against consumers seeking mental health treatment in the commercial insurance marketplace, the Vermont Association for Mental Health, beginning in the Fall of 1996, successfully lead a campaign to establish parity between physical and mental health benefits, including substance abuse. On June 10th of 1997, when Governor Dean signed the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Parity Bill, Vermont's law became the new national standard for equal treatment of both the brain and the body. The passage of the bill means that beginning in 1998, insurance plans in Vermont no longer have arbitrary lifetime limits, high deductibles or co-payments, or arbitrary day limits on outpatient or hospital visits. The Vermont Association for Mental Health's Parity Coalition, composed of consumers, parents, family members, practitioners, advocacy groups and concerned citizens all worked cooperatively to craft and promote this historic, comprehensive bill.

In addition to these other activities, for over four decades, VAMH has administered and operated Camp Daybreak, the state's only special residential camp project designed to serve young Vermont children who are coping with serious mental health problems. The camp not only provides campers with a safe and secure summer camp environment, but it affords nearly 45 high school age volunteers with a remarkable experience. These volunteers serve as big brothers and big sisters to the campers, working one-on-one with the young children who range in age from 8 to 11 years. For parents, Camp Daybreak represents an important time of respite during the long summer months. With financial backing from many diverse sources, not the least of which are individual contributors, state agencies and The Turrell Fund, the Camp is recognized as a special state resource.

With the passage of Vermont's parity law, the Association has become engaged in improving social policy and social services for Vermonters who cope with alcohol and drug addictions. In 1998, the Association was selected to be the host agency for the Friends of Recovery - VT project, an effort to build a statewide coalition of people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction and its effects. Sarah Munro is leading this project (please visit their website). We are now working to improve treatment, prevention and recovery services in Vermont as a key player in a broad coalition effort.

Ken in the office

The Vermont Association for Mental Health resides at 43 State Street in the heart of Montpelier. Ken Libertoff is the Executive Director and Penny Dowen is the Office and Fiscal Manager, completing the staff roster of two. No one would confuse VAMH with a large bureaucracy.

In order for the Vermont Association for Mental Health to grow and expand, we invite you to join one thousand other folks who are loyal VAMH members. Working together, we can and will make Vermont a state of mental health!

Board of Directors

Return to top

©2002 Vermont Association for Mental Health