Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization that has a long history of providing community based and largely publicly funded behavioral healthcare services. Our mission is to provide quality, affordable behavioral healthcare and related services in partnership with our communities and was recently expanded to acknowledge the need for increasing service and funding diversity.
As an organization dedicated to this mission, our history spans decades. In 1958 services began to be delivered in Alachua County through a program in the Health Department that provided consultation to school nurses.
In 1962, services to clients about to enter or just having left state mental hospitals were added. This base was further expanded when three organizations, the Alachua County Mental Health Association, the Public Health Department, and the Department of Community Psychiatry at the University of Florida became involved in the development of a community mental health center.
Services were expanded to a ten county area through a staffing grant awarded in 1972. We provided care to the adult citizens of Alachua, Dixie, Levy, Gilchrist, Columbia, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Bradford, and Union Counties. In the four years that followed, funding was added that allowed the center to add services for children (including residential treatment) and older adults, as well as for those suffering from alcohol abuse.
In 1979, the ten-county area was divided into two smaller regions with the formation of North Florida Mental Health Center, Inc. (NFMHC) and Mental Health Services, Inc. (MHS). The funding to do that was provided by federal staffing grants. The North Florida Mental Health Center organization served the six northernmost counties (Columbia, Hamilton, Lafayette, Suwannee, Bradford, and Union) of the original ten. Bradford and Union were known as Bradford Union Guidance and served by a contract with NFMHC. Mental Health Services, Inc. served the remaining four (Alachua, Dixie, Levy, and Gilchrist).
During these early times, and the ensuing 17 years, funds from state and federal governments expanded and contracted and both Centers grew and changed considerably. In 1985 Putnam County joined Bradford and Union, and in 1992, the organization officially merged with North Florida Mental Health. Later, Baker County was added to the service area.
In the mid nineties it became clear that the resources necessary to provide services were so scarce and administrative costs so steep that a change was needed. In 1996, Mental Health Services, Inc. and North Florida Mental Health Center, Inc. decided to merge. Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc. became the new name for the merged agencies. The cost savings from merging administrative services and the subsequent streamlining of programs helped stabilize the financial side, thus making service continuity possible.
Since the original merger, two more changes have occurred. Putnam County decided that it wanted to provide services locally, through its own agency. They began doing so in 1998, though Meridian continues to be Putnam's provider for crisis stabilization services. In January 2001 Baker County, which is in another contracting district for the Department of Children and Families, contracted their services to providers within that District.
As a result Meridian now covers the same ten counties it did in 1972, offering a wide array of services and access to behavioral healthcare for the citizens of those counties. Throughout these many changes, the focus on our mission has remained. We have prioritized quality, service, and maintaining a continuum of care in times where other behavioral healthcare providers have eliminated services, particularly outpatient.
Meridian covers a geographic area that is largely rural and sparsely populated. The area encompasses 6,711 square miles. As of 2003 the region had a population of 438,898, up 2% from 2002 (431,885), and 3% from the 2000 census figure of 428,885. Meridian maintains clinics in the nine (9) largest counties, with residential programs managed centrally in the two most populous counties, Alachua and Columbia. – less – More from ZoomInfo »