Skyland Trail Dedicates Main Campus to Founder, Charles B. West

Marks the 25th Anniversary of Inspiring Recovery from Mental Illness

At a Founder’s Day event on July 24, John Gordon, Skyland Trail board chair, announced that the main campus will be dedicated to the organization’s founder, Charles B. West, and renamed the Charles B. West Campus, in honor of the organization’s 25th anniversary. Charles West was born on July 24, 1921.

Skyland Trail, an Atlanta-based nonprofit psychiatric treatment organization for adults with mental illness, celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2014. Skyland Trail opened its doors in 1989, with four clients and four staff. Today, 25 years later, Skyland Trail has three campuses, more than 100 staff members, and has served thousands of adults with mental illness and their families.

In the early 1980s, West responded to the need of a friend who had an adult daughter with schizophrenia by organizing early supporters and investors to establish a new organization. Skyland Trail opened in 1989 with a model of treatment that was groundbreaking in Atlanta and still new to much of the country – one focused on recovery and hope. West’s commitment and service to Skyland Trail continued over more than two decades, contributing directly to the growth of the organization and to improved lives for thousands of adults with mental illness. West passed away July 26, 2013, at the age of 92.

“The essential qualities of Skyland Trail come from our founders,” says Beth Finnerty, Skyland Trail president and CEO. “Their compassion, their courage, and their commitment made this a community of recovery like none other. Certainly Charles West had all of these attributes.”

The mission of Skyland Trail is to help adults with mental illnesses like bipolar illness, major depression, schizophrenia, and anxiety disorders learn to successfully manage their illnesses and return to the community to live productive, meaningful lives.

A comprehensive treatment model integrates strategies to help adults improve mental health, physical wellness, spiritual strength and relationships with family and friends. Services include psychiatric assessment, group and individual therapy, primary medical care, vocational services, pastoral counseling, social skills coaching, and art, horticultural and music therapy. 

The organization has received local and national recognition, including the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Gold Award, the Johnson & Johnson/Rosalynn Carter Caregiver Award, and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s Managing for Excellence Award. 

“My dad had a special place in his heart for all those associated with Skyland Trail and passionately pursued realizing the dream of a best-in-class center of excellence for the purpose of providing hope, recovery, and a life filled with purpose,” remarks Mark West, son of Charles B. West and chair of the Skyland Trail Board of Directors from 1989 to 2012. “It was always very clear to my dad, and all of his family, that the achievements we have witnessed at Skyland Trail could not have transpired without all of the talented and dedicated staff professionals, committed board members, and generous friends in the Atlanta community.”

Future plans include a strategic expansion to meet the changing mental health needs of the community, particularly young adults seeking specialized residential care and individuals with mental illness in need of outpatient primary care services.