The Mental Health Foundation was created as a 501 (c) 3 organization in 1998. It was originally established by the Mental Health Association in New York State to engage in public education about mental health issues.

The Foundation became an independent entity in 2005 and began re-establishing itself following a highly successful 2006 event with former First Lady Rosalyn Carter, arranged by former NY First Lady Matilda Cuomo, who serves on the Foundation board. CSEA played a key role in helping to make that event happen and as a result, Stephen Madarasz was elected to the Board and became Board President.

Subsequent events involving, Tipper Gore, actor/Mental Health activist Joe Pantoliano, Marylou Whitney, former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, US Representative Paul Tonko and most recently, new University at Albany President Robert Jones, have helped establish the organization’s standing and begun to build a broader based of support.  For several years, the Foundation sponsored an annual Paws for a Cause event at the Empire State Plaza in Albany with a variety of programs and vendors emphasizing the connection between pets and good mental health. These events drew upwards of 20,000 participants each year. The mission of The Mental Health Foundation is to encourage, develop and support educational campaigns and other initiatives to improve understanding of mental illness and ensure access to quality care. The Foundation is particularly concerned with reducing the stigma of mental illness and encouraging individuals to seek early diagnosis.