DBHDD Management Academy

DBHDD is offering a new training program for managers within the agency. The “Management Academy” features a six-month curriculum designed to equip current and future leaders with the tools necessary to help the department achieve its mission of providing high-quality services in a changing behavioral health and developmental disability environment.

The Management Academy, developed by DBHDD’s Office of Learning and Organizational Development (OLOD) in partnership with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, provides management training across all divisions of the agency. Using core components from other management programs, the Vinson Institute worked with OLOD to develop a curriculum that addresses needs and challenges specific to DBHDD.

“The Management Academy allows us to come out of our day-to-day jobs and look at leadership in a multidisciplinary way,” said Debbie Atkins, regional service administrator for behavioral health in DBHDD’s region one. Atkins is a member of the inaugural class, which began in May. “In the sessions, we are learning how to apply basic management and leadership skills to real-life challenges that we encounter in our jobs.”

Former OLOD director Erick Allen began working with the Vinson Institute in the summer of 2012 to develop the Management Academy. The program is intended to help DBHDD manage system changes that will lead to a better service delivery system for our clients and partners. Allen says that the academy was designed with three goals in mind: to support the department’s strategic change initiatives; to develop future and current leaders; and to improve job satisfaction and retention.

“The department has attracted the best and brightest in the fields of mental health, addictive diseases and developmental disabilities,” said Allen. “The purpose of the DBHDD Management Academy is to supplement the technical skills with the best methodologies in management and leadership.”

The program is limited to 25 participants and features classroom-style lectures and seminars, led by the Vinson Institute. Coursework includes supplemental reading and a capstone project. The class is divided into groups of three-to-five members across disciplines and tasked to design a project which examines an aspect of management that applies to DBHDD. The sessions allow some time to work on the project, but many groups also meet between the sessions. Each group will present its findings during the graduation ceremony and make a formal recommendation to DBHDD leadership.

Sessions are held in different location throughout Georgia and cover a variety of topics. The first two focused on “leading in the public sector” (Atlanta) and “developing people” (Macon). Upcoming sessions include:

  • Unleashing the power of inclusion (August 7-8)
  • Managing change and transformation (September 18-19)
  • Building capacity (October 30-31)
  • Graduation: enhancing organizational effectiveness (November 20-21)

The DBHDD Management Academy is designed for emerging leaders within the department and intended for people who have worked for DBHDD for at least two years and are no less than five years from retirement. Graduates will receive a certificate in leadership from the University of Georgia.

A new class will start again in January 2015 and will be offered twice each year. Participants must be nominated by their supervisors. Contact Donna Johnson, interim director of OLOD at donna.johnson@dbhdd.ga.gov for information on program requirements.

DBHDD participates in national opioid abuse meeting

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that since 1999, more than 125,000 deaths have resulted from overdoses related to opioid pain relievers, calling the trend a national epidemic.

On July 17 and 18, the health and human services department hosted a meeting, “Advancing Policy and Practice: A 50-State Working Meeting to Prevent Opioid-Related Overdose,” in Washington, DC—the first-ever convention of governmental partners from all 50 states that focused solely on this issue. DRUGoverdoseEpidemicGA “I am encouraged by HHS’ initiative to bring states together on this important topic and recognize the impact that this epidemic is having on families and communities across our nation,” said DBHDD addictive diseases director Cassandra Price. “I look forward to continuing our collaboration with partners in other states as we work to reduce opioid abuse in Georgia and across the U.S.”

DBHDD staff joined peers from across the nation at the meeting, which featured presentations from national experts who provided a comprehensive overview of the epidemic, highlighting many of the intervention strategies being used throughout the U.S. to address opioid abuse. States also met in teams to discuss state-level planning for prevention strategies, access to medication-assisted treatment, including Naloxone, a medication used to reverse the effects of opioid overdose, and strengthening health care provider accountability.

Visit our website for more information on substance abuse prevention efforts in Georgia.

Prescription Drug Overdose in the United States: Fact Sheet (CDC)

Olmstead Success Story: Donnie

Submitted by Lookout Mountain Community Service Board

donnie-olmsteadDonnie grew up in rural Trion, Georgia. He lived on a small farm where he enjoyed southern cooking, especially pinto beans with onion and cornbread which he still talks about regularly. In 1984, when his parents were no longer able to care for him, he was admitted to Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital.

He spent the next 27 years in various units at the hospital. In June of 2011, Donnie moved from to the Magnolia CLA in Summerville. Little did the staff know at that time the great gift they had received when this gentleman moved into his new home. Donnie had become dependent on a feeding tube and often needs oxygen to assist with his breathing. He had learned ways to deal with stress and also how to get people not to bother him. He would curse and spit. Despite his defenses, the staff at Magnolia fell in love with him instantly.

Over time his mental status was evaluated, and as much as he tried to shut people out they wanted to help him, to love him more, and for him to be happy. He was given a new medication, which seemed to have a positive effect overnight. He seemed more at peace with himself, and he doesn’t spit anymore. He still curses sometimes, but it’s usually with a smile. He hugs and smiles more, and he seems to love himself more.

Any staff that works with him can’t help but love him. He likes to give hugs now and he has become more comfortable in his home. His room is decorated with the things that are important to him. He loves money and Coca-Cola. No one knew these things about him when he moved into Magnolia CLA, but the caring staff was able to get him to open up and share his hopes, dreams, likes and dislikes. He doesn’t talk a lot, but the staff takes the time and sits with him, and even though he speaks in short or one word sentences, he will talk about things that make him happy. He tells staff what he needs or wants.

Donnie is considered medically fragile, but he often attends community functions and attended all of one of his housemate’s baseball games this spring. Donnie needed a caring home, and he found it at Magnolia CLA, but he has given the staff so much more.

National Association of the Deaf Conference

Atlanta hosted the 52nd Biennial National Association of the Deaf Conference, which took place between July 1 and July 5 at the Hilton Atlanta.

 “It was exciting to meet so many other community members and leaders from around the country supporting the 2014 National Association of the Deaf conference theme of deaf civil rights, which parallels the mission of DBHDD’s Office of Deaf Services to provide and promote equal accessibility and choice of services and programs to our deaf and hard of hearing communities,” said DBHDD Deaf Services Director Candice Tate, Ph.D. “Deaf services staff were honored to attend the opening ceremony with Commissioner Berry and Assistant Commissioner Gault, and several attendees approached us later during the conference to express how much it meant to see our state leaders support and lead our efforts to ensure equal behavioral health care access for all Georgians.”

System of Care Academy: Engaging youth, parents and providers

In June, the Interagency Directors’ Team of the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council hosted the 7th annual System of Care Academy in Stone Mountain. Partnering agencies included DBHDD, the Division of Family and Children Services and the juvenile justice, community health, public health and education departments, along with the Georgia State University Center of Excellence for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health.

The three-day conference is the largest statewide multi-disciplinary gathering in the field of children’s behavioral health in Georgia, attracting over 400 parents, youth, agency staff and providers this year.

“The System of Care Academy allows for cross systems staff, providers, parents and youth to come together, learn together and work together,” said Linda Henderson-Smith, Ph.D., who chairs the conference and is director of DBHDD’s Office of Children, Young Adults and Families.

System of care involves coordination of a wide array of community-based services centered on individualized care and full participation from youth and their families.

The theme of this year’s conference was Ideal to Real. The goal is to train families and providers so that the system of care philosophy can be implemented at the local and community level.

“The System of Care Academy is about people working together,” said Henderson-Smith. “Parents are the drivers, and youth preferences are included in their treatment plans. At the academy, they learn practical information and strategies for implementing the System of Care framework at local county regional and state levels. It’s exciting to watch!”

“Recovery is Good”: Savannah peer group uses music to set aside differences

“Recovery is possible in the collaborative sense if we have processes and beliefs that make people feel equal.” – Bill Carruthers

Bill Carruthers is innovating recovery at Savannah Counseling Services, where he is director of the Chatham Peer Program which serves about 20 adults with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Carruthers, a certified peer specialist, started the outpatient recovery program with the help of Savannah Counseling director Amanda Tillman in July 2013.

“When Amanda asked me to start a peer program, she let me have free rein in its design,” Carruthers said. “So I took everything that I hated about the programs I had been in, and I turned it inside out. I call it ‘recovery on fire.’” The program is consumer-driven, an aspect that is very important to Carruthers.

In April, Carruthers had a new idea. “One day, I walked into the center, and everyone was in various states of existing separately and communicating within the construct that was most convenient for them.” Carruthers compares the discord with the Tower of Babel. “I tasked them to create a song,” he said. At first, chaos ensued, but quickly everyone came together around their primary purpose: recovery.

Carruthers’ only instruction was to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. “I wanted them to have something they could be proud of. Many of them had never had anything of value,” said Carruthers. “This song and its process allowed them to take ownership of their recovery and of how to communicate it.”

Each individual contributed to the production of the song. “We have one guy whose goal is to become a music producer. He had all of the equipment, so he created the beats and put the vocals over them.” Carruthers says that all of the recording was done at the peer center. “Everyone came together; everyone wanted to be a part of it.” They selected the title, “Recovery is Good” to express their process, both as individuals and as a group.

In June, the individuals in the Chatham Peer Program had the opportunity to present their song to DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry. “One of the milestones in my recovery occurred when I was invited last year to share my story with Commissioner Berry and [DBHDD’s] board,” Carruthers said. “I wanted the peer group to get that same feeling that I did: validation.”

Listen to “Recovery is Good.”