Why are we “Vail” Place?

Why are we “Vail” Place?

Celebrating our namesake as we celebrate our 40th Birthday

We proudly call ourselves Vail Place in honor, in appreciation, and in memory of Dr. David Vail, a state and national pioneer in helping people with mental illness get out of institutions and return to community life.

Back in the 1970s, a group of Minneapolis community leaders saw the need to create a new community mental health center to support people with mental illness being released from our state hospitals.  They decided to name this new agency Vail Place after Dr. David Vail, a psychiatrist, and the Medical Director of Minnesota’s Department of Public Welfare for 11 years before he died at the early age of 45 in 1971.

Dr. Vail was a strong advocate for patients’ rights, and he saw the civil rights movement of the 1960s as a movement for the human rights of people with disabilities as well.

During his tenure, Minnesota was recognized as a leader in humanizing its mental health facilities – changing them from custodial institutions to treatment programs designed to meet the specific needs of their residents.

Dr. David Vail

Dr. Vail and his department also helped drive public policy, creating new Minnesota legislation covering patients’ civil rights, standards of treatment, and provisions for aftercare services.  It was the first major reform in this area in several decades.

Dr. Vail’s work also resulted in the expansion of state-supported community services.  His department created an extensive volunteer services program to bring outside contact to patients in state hospitals and to help reintroduce them to community living.  Minnesota received an Achievement Award from the American Psychiatric Association for this volunteer program.

Dr. Vail’s work also led to the system of community support programs we have today.  We are privileged to be a recipient of his legacy of groundbreaking accomplishments on behalf of people with mental illness.