Charity bosses hope other organisations follow their lead and create their own dedicated residential mental health facilities.
VSA broke new ground at the site of Abergeldie House on Holburn Street yesterday and it is due to open later next year.
The charity has been busy fundraising for the project with the aim of raising £3.2 million to make it a reality and so far it has brought in £2.4 million.
The purpose-built facility will have 20 bedrooms for people requiring support as they recover from conditions like stress, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and eating disorders. VSA plans to open the building in late 2020 to coincide with its 150th anniversary year.
Bosses hope the new centre will provide the right environment and opportunity for people to recover from mental ill health and take control of their lives.
VSA’s chairwoman Maggie Wilson, who will trek up Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania next year as part of the fundraising efforts for the complex, was among those cutting the sod at the centre’s construction site yesterday.
Maggie said: “We would like to think that where we lead other cities will follow. We would love other places to see what we are doing with the centre.
“Our hope is that this will save the health service and other organisations.
“This is us giving something back to the city and it is important for the charity.
“We are marking our 150th anniversary next and we feel it is vital that we give back to Aberdeen.”
VSA chief executive Dr Kenneth Simpson hailed it as a major step for mental health treatment in the north-east.
He said: “It is a very important next step in VSA’s future, providing a unit for 20 people to start their road to recovery.
“We’ve designed the building around the idea that each room has its own en suite and cooking facilities so people can be more independent and eventually return to the community.
“It is really meant to allow people to manage their own rehabilitation back into the community.
Keep up to date with the latest news with The Evening Express newsletter
“We hope, using the recovery model, people can come and progress at their own speed so it leads to full recovery.”
Lord Provost Barney Crockett added: “It is a great thing for the city. Mental health is a huge priority today.”