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Mission Statement

The joint mission of the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (ABADA) and the Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB) is to advocate for programs and services that promote healthy, independent, productive Alaskans. AMHB/ABADA are statutorily charged with advising, planning, and coordinating behavioral health services and programs funded by the State of Alaska.


The Alaska State Legislature (AS 44.29.800) and Federal Public Law #99-660 established AMHB in 1987. The Alaska State Legislature (AS 44.29.100) and Executive Order #71 established ABADA the following year, in 1988. Before this action, the advisory councils on alcoholism and drug abuse were separate under the “Review Board on Alcoholism” and the “Advisory Board on Drug Abuse.”

In 1994 the State of Alaska entered into the Weiss Settlement Agreement, the result of a twelve-year long class action lawsuit in response to the State of Alaska’s violation of the Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act of 1956. The Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act transferred the responsibility for mental health programs from the federal government to the Territory of Alaska and granted a one million acre trust to the Territory to aid in the financial support of a comprehensive mental health program. The class action suit alleged that the State breached the mental health lands trust by failing to account for trust revenues, using the revenue from trust lands for purposes other than mental health services, and redesignating trust lands as general grant lands, resulting in an underfunding of services that forced vulnerable Alaskans to leave the state for treatment. In 1983 the superior court ruled that the State had breached its duties, however the final settlement remedying the breach was not reached until 1994.  The Weiss Settlement enshrined AMHB and ABADA as advisory boards to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, along with the Governor’s Council on Disabilities and Special Education for the purposes of planning services and making budget recommendations to the Trust as informed by their respective beneficiary constituencies. (Read the full Weiss Settlement)

In 2005, as part of the state’s multi-year process to consolidate mental health and substance use efforts under the newly formed Division of Behavioral Health, the structure of AMHB and ABADA was changed to co-locate the Boards under one executive director and staff. Per the Weiss Settlement, the Boards must maintain separate officers, elections and membership, but can operate under a joint executive committee, meet jointly in public meetings statewide, and carry out projects and advocacy efforts jointly.

In 2010, the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council (SSPC) was co-located under AMHB and ABADA’s executive director but maintains separate staff. While the SSPC does not meet concurrently with the Boards, members of both boards are represented on the council and offer presentations and updates to each respective board regularly.

AMHB and ABADA also serve as the federally mandated State Planning Council on Mental Health (42 USC §300x–3), which advocates for the inclusion of Alaskans with behavioral health conditions in state funding decisions through the Substance Use and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Combined Mental Health Block Grant and Substance Use Prevention, Treatment and Recovery Services Block Grant. The Boards’ strive to embody the principle of “Nothing About Us Without Us.”

What Does AMHB/ABADA Do?

The Boards have six principal functions in statute: planning and coordination, advising and educating, and advocacy and public engagement.

  • PLANNING AND COORDINATION:  The Boards actively participate in diverse planning initiatives associated with the holistic behavioral health system. They continually coordinate with state, community, and consumer organizations, striving to enhance the well-being of Alaskans affected by behavioral health conditions. Some specific areas of focus include:

  • ADVISING AND EDUCATING: The Boards coordinate with state and local governments, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and partner advisory boards, community organizations, and the public to advise and educate on issues related to mental health and substance use disorders. The Boards serve as the State Planning Council mandated by the federal government to advise on the development and execution of the SAMSHA Block Grant.

  • ADVOCACY AND PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: The Boards engage the public in discussions concerning mental health services within all planning endeavors. They gather valuable input to advocate for the needs and rights of individuals dealing with mental health and substance use disorders to the Alaska State Legislature, Governor, and executive/state agencies. Through their advocacy efforts, the Boards have effectively supported bills aiming to broaden access to psychiatric care, incorporate mitigating factors for justice-involved individuals affected by Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, expand Medicaid, and advance various other initiatives.

How We Do Our Work

ABADA and AMHB meet regularly during the year to hear from state agencies, behavioral health providers and Alaskans with mental health and substance use disorders about the state funded behavioral health system. Board members engage with the Governor, Alaska State Legislature and state agencies to educate and advise on the needs of these Alaskans and the providers who serve them.

Staff work with Board members and other stakeholders on statewide planning and coordinating efforts including serving on statewide advisory councils, taskforces and coalitions, data collection and assessment, planning and program evaluation.

2024 AMHB-ABADA Priority Focus Areas

Empathy and Understanding

All Alaskans are provided with dignity and respect and are viewed as valued members of their families and communities.


The Boards will amplify the voices of individuals and families with behavioral health conditions, as well as service providers and communities.


Alaska’s behavioral health services are routinely evaluated for efficacy through a comprehensive process which includes input from persons who have lived experience.

Empowering Youth

Alaskan Youth are actively engaged in shaping policies, programs and interventions that meet their unique needs and promote their mental and emotional well-being.