Evaluation in the community mental health centers program: A bold new reproach?

William Neigher, James Ciarlo, Christina Hoven, Karen Kirkhart, Gerald Landsberg, Enid Light, Fred Newman, Elmer L. Struening, Lindsley Williams, Charles Windle, J. Richard Woy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Federal Community Mental Health Centers Program (CMHC)-from 1963 to 1981-was heralded as a revolution in mental health care. Championed by many, and severely criticized by others, the actual impact of the program on the nation's mental health remains unclear, The authorization to evaluate the CMHC Program came originally from congressional legislation (PL 90-174), and later from the policies and regulations of NIMH under a series of Federal laws, notably PL 63-94. From 1976-1980, two dominant evaluation strategies were prevalent: funds expended by NIMH each year for studies of CMHC services or program-wide evaluations, and a much larger expenditure by CMHCs to conduct their own, independent evaluations following federal guidelines. As the Center's Program was turned over to the states in the form of block grants (PL 97-35), a group of professionals involved with setting and carrying out federal CMHC evaluation policy of both varieties met in public forum to debate the impact of these two evaluation approaches. While some participants cited gains in evaluation technology and impact upon local management of CMHCs, others found the lack of a coordinated and systematic approach to evaluating the CMHC Program to have been an opportunity missed. The impact of CMHC evaluation efforts are also discussed in terms of their major contribution to the field of evaluation research as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-311
Number of pages29
JournalEvaluation and Program Planning
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1982
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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