In the 1950s, mental health care in New York state was changing.Treatment was less focused on surgeries and more on social milieu therapy and the development of an enhanced social environment for the chronically mentally ill with the institution as the focal point of therapy.
The New York State Community Mental Health Services Act was passed in 1954 encouraging localities to establish community-based mental health programs. New psychiatric drugs reinforced confidence in the effectiveness of outpatient treatment and the drugs' ability to treat mental illness. Intensive individualized treatment programs were developed and the nation's mental health inpatient population was reduced. New York's inpatient population, which peaked at 93,600 in 1955, was poised to benefit from the formation of community-based mental health programs that offered a new approach to service delivery.
Such circumstances let to the establishment of DePaul, founded in 1958 in Rochester as a program of the Catholic Family Center to meet the mental health needs of children in the Diocesan School District. DePaul expanded services to include all age groups in 1973. In 1979, the DePaul Clinic became DePaul Mental Health Services, Inc. The first adult community residence opened on West Avenue in the city of Rochester that same year. Residential mental health programming quickly expanded to include additional adult community residences, treatment apartment programs, supported housing and transitional housing. The Continuing Day Treatment Program followed in 1980.
The Adult Care Division, commonly referred to as DePaul Senior Living Communities, was established in 1984 when DePaul assumed operation of Parkside, a 169-bed adult home in East Rochester, which has since been converted to a Single Room Occupancy Program. There are now 18 licensed adult homes serving the elderly.
Residential mental health services expanded in 1989 to Erie and Wayne counties. This began an era of rapid growth for the agency as a number of not-for profit organizations with similar lines of service merged with DePaul during the 1990s. In 1994, administrative offices were moved to their current location at 1931 Buffalo Road in the town of Gates.
Significant expansion through acquisition and construction occurred in DePaul's Senior Living Communities during the 1990s with the addition of licensed adult homes in New York. Seeking further diversification, DePaul recognized a need for senior living residential services for middle- to lower-income populations in North Carolina, a popular retirement destination where not-for-profit providers were in the minority. DePaul's first out-of-state expansion occurred in 1996 with the purchase of Twelve Oaks in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. DePaul programs were welcomed by the state and today there are 13 sites in North Carolina.
Vocational programming, a vital component of the recovery process for those with a mental illness, was launched in 1999.
The 2000 opening of Edgerton Square, DePaul's first Single Room Occupancy (SRO) Program, marked DePaul's entre' into adding this residential alternative to its continuum of care. Today, there are seven SROs in New York serving over 500 individuals in recovery from mental illness.
A 2004 merger added addiction prevention and support services to DePaul's service base.
The ensuing years have included further expansion in both New York and North Carolina and the successful exploration of new funding streams that allowed DePaul to assist greater numbers of people in need.
Fifty-five years later, DePaul provides services in 18 counties spanning two states, New York and North Carolina, and operates nearly 3,000 beds. Over 1,600 employees provide care in the areas of senior living, mental health residential and treatment services, addiction prevention and support programs, vocational programs and affordable housing, serving nearly 5,000 individuals annually.