Let’s Start at the Beginning
In the 1950’s, families who had a loved one with a disability or mental illness were encouraged to keep them in institutions. By the 60’s, attitudes were changing. In 1968, the Virginia General Assembly passed a law allowing local governments to create agencies that could help people with mental illness or developmental disability.
These agencies were Community Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services Boards, which were often called “Chapter 10 Boards” after the legislation that created them. In 1970, the Frank C. Pratt Chapter of the Mental Health Association in Fredericksburg voted to match the state funds set aside for these boards, and start an agency in the Fredericksburg area. The Rappahannock Area Mental Health and Mental Retardation Services Board began in 1970 with a staff of 10.
Through the next decades, the agency led efforts to care for people with mental illness, developmental disability and substance use disorders in the Fredericksburg community. The board started offering day support services and early intervention for babies years before such programs became common throughout Virginia.
In 1977, the agency renamed itself the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board to reflect its support of alcohol and drug prevention programs. In the early 1980’s, RACSB opened satellite mental health clinics in outlying counties. The first to open was in Caroline County.
In the next four decades, RACSB opened clinics and day support sites and added programs to meet the burgeoning needs of a rapidly growing community. RACSB added residential services and programs for teen parents, mothers struggling with addictions, and young families needing support. RACSB was instrumental in establishing the Rappahannock Regional Drug Treatment Court, which was the first regional drug court in the nation and the first drug court to treat juveniles.
As needs arise in the Fredericksburg region, RACSB strives to provide solutions. The agency has helped train hundreds of first responders to handle mental health crises and established a crisis assessment center at Mary Washington Hospital, to help law enforcement officers with emergency custody orders. The agency created a crisis stabilization program for people with mental illness and substance abuse issues. Most recently, RACSB started a Medication-Assisted Treatment program in response to the growing opioid epidemic.
RACSB is committed to continuing the tradition of serving the community, by solving problems, helping area residents, and serving the most vulnerable populations.