In 1968, a new California law released thousands of psychiatric patients from hospitals and onto the streets. Many had nowhere to go, and families could not take them in. All of them needed treatment, and holding a job was rarely possible. Most needed residential care, but little was available.
To address the problem locally, a group of residents from the Beverlywood neighborhood of Los Angeles stepped forward in 1979. Organized by Tom Pritchard, they created a residential treatment center, leasing an apartment building nearby. They named their nonprofit the Beverlywood Mental Health Center (BMHC). “Beverlywood” provided supervised housing and meals to 120 residents. A year later, the group garnered a contract through Los Angeles County to provide mental health treatment on-site to its residents.
In 1986, BMHC expanded and added outpatient treatment to underserved community members in need of mental health services. They did this amid a decade during which a national expansion of outpatient mental health services developed. Community acceptance for “therapy” took hold, as did the demand for BMHC’s services. Demand grew so much that by 1999, BMHC moved to a larger facility blocks away and renamed itself the Alcott Center for Mental Health Services to reflect the new location.
Today, ‘Alcott’ continues offering outpatient, comprehensive mental health treatment, community education, and residential services. Its ever-expanding programs now help people in Hollywood, Pico Robertson, South Los Angeles, Watts, Commerce, and Whittier. Over 1,000 people were served last year.