Our History

Our organization’s history in the mental health sector began over a half-century ago. West River Mental Health has been providing behavioral health care in the Black Hills and Western South Dakota since 1948. Our staff remains proud and reflective of where we began, and today’s counselors and mental health service providers are proactive and progressive in their approach to client care.

The Beginning

The company started with a single care provider, Dr. Thomas Fox, a psychiatrist at the Fort Meade Medical Center. He began offering his services in 1948 for a half-day each week in Rapid City. It was the only mental health option available to the general public in Rapid City. Dr. Fox’s individual effort eventually drew the attention of community leaders. Their consideration led to the incorporation of a not-for-profit organization called West River Mental Health Center (WRMHC), where Dr. Fox was joined by a small team of mental health care providers. A true turning point for WRMHC came in the early 1960’s when President John F. Kennedy called for “a bold new approach” to the prevention and treatment of mental illness. President Kennedy’s appeal was poignant for the WRMHC, and the Black Hills Center responded by expanding outpatient counseling services, launching new programs for adults with major mental illness, and opening additional offices in the Northern Hills (Spearfish, South Dakota) and the Southern Hills (Hot Springs, South Dakota).
Elk Street Location

By the 1980s, demand for a decrease in the government funding of such institutions resounded across public and political forums. While many not-for-profit agencies were forced to curtail their available services, the WRMHC Board of Directors took a different approach by expanding outpatient services offered to adults, children, and families in the Black Hills.


Over 11,000 people from a 20,000 square mile area turn to the progressive services and staff of West River Mental Health to address their mental health and addiction needs. From one service provider to many; from one location in Rapid City to five offices spread throughout the Black Hills; through the expansion of services and tumultuous public and political environments, Behavior Management Systems has always remained true to its key mission: Provide high-quality and effective mental health and substance use disorder services helping clients lead full and productive lives while contributing to the health and well-being of our communities.