Skyland Trail Celebrates 20 Years of Service in Atlanta Community

ATLANTA — Skyland Trail is celebrating its 20th year of service in the Atlanta community.  Since opening its doors May 1, 1989, Skyland Trail has served thousands of adults with mental illness, equipping them with the skills to lead independent and productive lives.

Upon retirement from West Lumber Company of Atlanta in 1982, Charles West created the George West Mental Health Foundation, named for his father, with a vision to fill the void between hospitalization for mental illness and returning to normal community life.  Skyland Trail would open seven years later as the principle project of the foundation.  Thoughtful leaders such as Bernie Holland, M.D., Allison Williams, M.D., Bob Scherer, Alvin Barge and Edward Noble would implement a program wholly unique to the Atlanta community for those with mental illnesses that would include day and residential treatment with a holistic model of care.

Over the past 20 years, Skyland Trail has become an industry leader not only in Atlanta, but in the entire country.  The organization has been bestowed prestigious national awards, including the American Psychiatric Association’s Gold Achievement Award for excellence and innovation in psychiatric service in 2004, and the Rosalynn Carter/Johnson & Johnson Caregiver Award for excellence in 2002.

Clinical programs have remained on the cutting edge in the psychiatric world thanks to an expert clinical staff and world-class National Advisory Board consisting of psychiatric leaders from some of America’s preeminent academic institutions.  Services have been expanded to transcend traditional counseling-Skyland Trail offers clients vocational services, along with therapeutic outlets in recreation, horticulture, woodworking, drama, and art.  Additionally, Skyland Trail was one of the first community-based mental health programs in the United States to open an on-site, full-time primary care clinic last year.   

“We are humbled and proud of the growth we’ve seen,” said Skyland Trail President Beth Finnerty.  “We have maintained the vision our founders had when they created Skyland Trail, and we are proud to have helped so many improve their lives over the past two decades.  It has been an honor to work with our clients, staff and board members.”

Coinciding with Skyland Trail’s 20th anniversary will be the Annual ‘Arts in the Garden’ event.  It is set to take place May 1 at the facility’s Health and Education Center, located at 1903 North Druid Hills Road.  Held each May to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month, ‘Arts in the Garden’ celebrates the many talents and abilities of consumers of mental health services.    

“This is one of our favorite days each year, when the Atlanta community comes together for a day of beautiful art and to help break the stigma surrounding mental illness,” said Finnerty.  “This year, it will truly be special to also celebrate our 20th anniversary.”