Skyland Trail began with the determination of Atlanta business leader Charles B. West to fill a void in mental illness treatment. In the early 1980s the dominant treatment model in Atlanta was hospitalization for acute cases, aimed at stabilization. There was no residential psychiatric treatment program with the goal of offering therapies, together with the skills needed to reintegrate back into the community.
Through a friend’s experience, Mr. West recognized the need for the latter approach. He was nearing retirement from the family business, West Lumber Company. Turning his energies to the new cause, in 1982 he established The George West Mental Health Foundation, named for his father, and recruited a committed board of directors. The board studied programs and innovations across the nation that looked beyond short-term stabilization to long-term recovery.