As early as 1956, groups of concerned Barrington and East Providence residents recognized that the personal stigma felt by those suffering from a serious mental illness was preventing individuals from obtaining the help they needed. Community leaders were concerned about children's mental health and learning challenges, and the lack of access and funding to help their friends, families, and neighbors successfully achieve the goals for their children's recovery.
The similarity between the emerging programs in Barrington and East Providence was striking.
In 1963, the Barrington Town Council appointed the Barrington Mental Health Board which, in turn, created The Barrington Mental Health Association. Its first office was located in the basement of the Barrington Town Hall. Ms. Harriett Adams, a social worker, toiled diligently to create a database for referrals to police, fire departments, schools, physicians and community services to promote Barrington Mental Health services to community residents. Around that same time in East Providence, several individuals, including pediatrician Dr. John E. Farley, formed East Providence Mental Health Clinic.
The East Providence facility, with strong support from the local school system, initially targeted children's needs. Much of its fundraising was done door-to-door through the efforts of the East Providence Women's Club and the East Providence City Council. As awareness of mental health treatment increased, both organizations submitted annual local and state budget requests that were accompanied by impressive lists of statistics indicating success: early intervention for children and their families improved their lives and gave them an opportunity to succeed.
Both organizations received grants for program development and, in 1978, Barrington Mental Health joined with Bristol and Warren to formally establish Bristol County Mental Health Center. In developing its mission for this local organization, the state began to turn its attention to those adults who had been hospitalized for many years in Eleanor Slater Hospital. Eventually, the Department of Mental Health mandated the release of these individuals back to the community, but with a directive for increased supports from local mental health providers.
In October 1983, Bristol County Mental Health and East Providence Mental Health facilities merged and became East Bay Mental Health Center and moved to a centralized location at 2 Old County Road in Barrington. We are known today as East Bay Center.
Today, with a total staff of more than 100 caring, compassionate and committed professionals, we have shortened our name to East Bay Center. We treat more than 3,000 people each year, some of whom are considered chronic and persistently mentally ill.