Public community health services are part of the legacy of the late President John F. Kennedy. During his administration, the Community Mental Health Center Act of 1963 was signed. Then Federal funds became available to states for the purpose of developing community-based mental health services for all people regardless of their age, race, sex, creed, and income. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan was credited with launching the movement toward community-based services by sponsoring the 1963 legislation that created the community mental health center network.
The dream was that with research, prevention, early intervention and rehabilitation, the mentally ill and the emotionally disabled would be returned to their families from the state asylums and be maintained in their communities.
In 1977, a group of people from the Gateway Economic Development Association of Vinita, Oklahoma obtained federal funding to begin a non-profit 501(c)(3) community mental health service for the seven counties in the northeast corner of Oklahoma. After a period of refinement, including the conversion of federal funds to state grants in 1984, the agency changed its name to Grand Lake Mental Health Center, Inc. and moved its central administration location from Vinita to Nowata, Oklahoma.
Currently, Grand Lake Mental Health Center, Inc. operates facilities in Afton (Ottawa County), Bartlesville (Washington County), Claremore (Rogers County), Grove (Delaware County), Miami (Ottawa County), Nowata (Nowata County), Pryor (Mayes County), and Vinita (Craig County). Each office has its own administrative support and service staff and each functions somewhat differently according to the needs and resources of the community it serves. The Administrative office, located in Nowata, provides overall administration, planning, funding, training, coordination and support services. The Board of Directors, consisting of up to 14 members in the Service Area, is the governing body of the organization.