Chacku Mathai


Chacku Mathai is an Indian-American, person in recovery, and one of the founding board members of FOR-NY. He became involved in mental health and addiction recovery advocacy when he was only 15 years old. Chacku’s personal experiences as a youth and young adult with trauma, suicide attempts, and disabling mental health and substance use conditions, launched Chacku and his family towards a number of efforts to advocate for improved services, social conditions, and alternative supports in the community.

He has since accumulated over thirty years of experience in behavioral health systems transformation in a variety of roles including youth leadership, community organizing/advocacy, psychiatric rehabilitation practitioner/trainer in community mental health centers and residential programs licensed and certified by the Office of Mental Health.

He served in executive leadership roles such as the CEO for the MHA of Rochester; the Executive Director for the NAMI STAR Center, a SAMHSA National Technical Assistance Center; and as the Associate Executive Director for the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services. He has extensive training and technical assistance experience through NYAPRS as an implementation partner for the New York State Center of Excellence for the Integration of Care (CEIC), the SAMHSA Northeast Addiction Technology Transfer Network, the SAMHSA Recovery to Practice Resource Center for Behavioral Health Professionals and the SAMHSA Bringing Recovery Supports To Scale Technical Assistance Center Strategy (BRSS-TACS).

Chacku was active in state policy leadership by leading a statewide Employment Campaign, became the Chair for the Most Integrated Settings Coordinating Council’s Employment Data Integration Team, and was appointed to the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) Credentialing Board. He is a former member of the Commission that oversees the United States Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (USPRA) Certification Program for Certified Psychiatric Rehabilitation Practitioners (CPRP).

He is a founding board member and President of Friends of Recovery – New York. He also serves as a board member for the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA). He is a National Advisory Council member for the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health in Texas and the National Center on Advancing Person-Centered Practices and Systems. Chacku serves on a number of advisory boards and teams for key research initiatives at Boston, Columbia, Lesley, and Rutgers universities. Chacku is also an appointed member of the New York State Integrated Block Grant Committee.

Chacku currently serves as a SAMHSA Project Director with the Center for Practice Innovations OnTrackNY team focused on supporting youth and young adults with early psychosis to achieve their goals for school, work, and relationships.