The idea of organizing a mental health movement was initiated by Dr. Edward E. Krapf, a World Health Organization consultant, during a meeting among civic leaders to assess the mental health problems in the country brought about by World War II. In January 15, 1950, the Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) was formally organized with Dr. Manuel Arguelles as its first President. The Association focused on providing mental health services through the Child Guidance Clinic and educational programs on mental health among college students. The office of the Association was then located at the Methodist Social Center in Sampaloc, Manila. In 1958, it moved to its present home at # 18 East Avenue, Quezon City.
The Association has expanded its educational programs by organizing mental health seminar workshops and leadership training among the youth. Today, PMHA has organized mental health clubs in the different public high schools and private colleges and universities all over the country. Since 1951, it has continued to lead the celebration of National Mental Health Week and World Mental Health Day every 2nd week of October.
In 1960, the Association expanded its out-patient clinical services to accommodate the needs of the adult mentally ill, emotionally disturbed individuals and their families. The Clinical and Diagnostic Services now provides neuro-psychiatric and psychological testing services and other mental health services to all sectors of society.
In 1962, the PMHA launched its residential Rehabilitation Care Services to provide the recovering mentally ill patients opportunities to become productive members of their families prior to their final reintegration to their communities. At present, the Work Center operates an out-patient center which provides day care services and vocational activities as well as psychosocial therapeutic activities for persons with mental disabilities.
In 1958, PMHA organized its first provincial chapter in Cebu City. To date, PMHA has nine chapters nationwide: Bacolod-Negros Occidental, Baguio-Benguet, Cabanatuan-Nueva Ecija, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Dagupan-Pangasinan, Davao, Dumaguete-Negros Oriental and Lipa-Batangas.
In 1989, the PMHA Board of Trustees decided to put up a commercial building along the East Avenue property and along V. Luna Road on a Build, Operate, Transfer (BOT) scheme. This is to generate additional funding to support PMHA programs and operations and become less dependent on contributions and donations. The lifeline of the Association is in its host of volunteers from government and non-government organizations, who provide their leadership and expertise through their membership to the National Board and its different standing committees.
PMHA remains to be a formidable leader in the field of mental health. It continues to strengthen its partnerships, both with the government and non-government organizations, as well as with the business sectors to achieve its goal of promoting sound mental health for the Filipino people.