Profiles in Success: Greg

Advantage Behavioral Health Services

Greg (Advantage) 8.20.14When Greg graduated from Madison County High School in 1992, he was determined to become self-sufficient. His family helped enroll him at the Fine Finish Service Center. There, Greg took part in a pre-employment program and other services. After a year and a half in the program, Greg took a job at T.J. Maxx where he still works today.

While at the center, Greg has achieved many milestones. In 2008, he learned to drive and purchased his first vehicle. He was selected as a T.J. Maxx employee of the month in 2010 and has also been promoted. In 2013, he realized a lifelong dream of moving into his own apartment.

Greg’s managers at T.J. Maxx call him an asset. He takes pride in his work, is very friendly and always willing to help in other departments or areas of the store.

Greg continues to receive supports from Fine Finish. When he isn’t working, Greg enjoys bowling, cookouts at the park, playing basketball at the church gym and using the computer at the library. He even takes cooking classes and has learned to prepare a variety of healthy meals.

Fine Finish and DBHDD are proud of Greg and his many accomplishments.

Advantage Behavioral Health Services is one of twenty-six community service boards in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ statewide public safety network. Fine Finish provides developmental disability services for Advantage in Madison County.

DBHDD and BHL offer support and mental health counseling after death of Robin Williams

The comedy and personality of Robin Williams were a hallmark of a generation. His warm smile and sense of humor was an inspiration for many throughout the last four decades. His death by suicide at age 63 is a stunning reminder that millions of Americans fight against depression and mental illness every day.

Following Williams’ death, Wendy Schneider and Allison Trammell of Behavioral Health Link, which provides DBHDD’s GCAL service, participated in a helpline hosted by 11Alive. Trammell, who is BHL’s chief of quality management, and Schneider, chief clinical officer, joined other behavioral health experts to answer questions about depression and offer resources for counseling and support.

GCAL Robin Williams 8.20.14

Suicide claims more than 38,000 American lives each year. For many experiencing depression and suicidal thoughts, the battle can seem very lonely. You are not alone. DBHDD offers free, 24/7 access to mental health counseling through our partner Behavioral Health Link. If you or someone you know is struggling, please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line today: 800-715-4225.

Senate health and human services chair tours South Georgia behavioral health providers

On August 11, State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) visited four of DBHDD’s community service boards, including Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia (Valdosta), Unison Behavioral Health (Waycross), Gateway Behavioral Health Services (Brunswick) and the Community Service Board of Middle Georgia (Dublin).

Unterman, who chairs the Senate’s health and human services committee, says visiting these sites plays an important role in better understanding the challenges that Georgia’s behavioral health system faces. “I am grateful for the opportunity to visit several of DBHDD’s facilities in South Georgia,” said Unterman. “It’s important to compare behavioral health care across all parts of the state. Access issues are very different in rural and urbanized areas. This visit underscores the need to ensure a qualified behavioral health care workforce across Georgia.”

Representative Ellis Black (R-Valdosta) and State Senator-elect Greg Kirk (R-Americus) also joined Unterman at Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia (BHSGA).

David Sofferin, CEO of BHSGA, was proud to show off the Valdosta crisis center. “Since opening our new behavioral health crisis center earlier this year, our team members have been providing a valuable service to individuals with substance abuse disorders and/or a mental illness,” Sofferin said. “Our 10-county service area has never had a crisis stabilization unit located in one of the 10 counties. The response has been phenomenal.”

BHSGA 8.20.14Pictured left to right: Mary Girsch, RN, director of  BHSGA’s behavioral health crisis center; Representative Ellis Black; State Senator Renee Unterman; State Senator-elect Greg Kirk; David Sofferin. 


CSB Spotlight: River Edge

On August 1, DBHDD partner River Edge Behavioral Health Center in Macon hosted Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) public health analyst David Shillcutt. Shilcutt requested the meeting to learn more about community-based services and to get input from River Edge leadership on Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and SAMHSA policy enhancements that facilitate better access to care for people seeking recovery from mental health challenges and drug or alcohol addiction.

River Edge CEO Shannon Terrell Harvey welcomed Shillcutt’s visit saying, “We know treatment is effective and recovery can be expected. Sound policy makes access easy and affordable because every dollar invested in treatment saves seven dollars in social costs and five more in medical cost offset.”

Shillcutt toured River Edge’s residential detoxification and crisis stabilization unit and also visited an outpatient and supported employment facility for individuals  in mental health and addiction recovery.

River Edge Behavioral Health Center is one of twenty-six community service boards in the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities’ statewide public safety network. River Edges serves more than 12,000 youth and adults with mental health and addiction disorders and developmental disabilities annually through multiple locations in Bibb, Baldwin, Jones, Monroe, Putnam, Twiggs and Wilkinson counties annually.

Profiles in Success: James

Avita Community Partners

James struggled with drug addiction since age 13. He has a criminal history and has had difficulty finding and retaining a job all of his adult life. Last year, he began working with a supported employment specialist at Avita Community Partners.

The specialist helped him obtain a job as an assembler even though he had no prior related experience. James worked hard and learned to manage symptoms of worry and the feeling of being treated differently from others who worked around him. He performed well in this job for three months but was let go in a round of layoffs at the company.

The supported employment specialist worked with a local temp agency to arrange a mock interview for James and help him improve his interview skills. Two weeks later, James was hired as a forklift operator by a local plastics company. He stayed in the supported employment program for three months after starting the new job until he felt that he no longer needed assistance. He was placed on medication maintenance through Avita at that time.

James recently sent a message to his supported employment specialist that he was doing well and loving his job. He is training in other areas with the company and works a lot of overtime, which has enabled him to buy a car and catch up on past-due rent. He is now saving money to get his own apartment, so that he can move out of the halfway house he has been in for the past two years.

Nurses wanted


Do you know someone looking for a great place to work with flexible shifts and career advancement opportunities?

The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) is hiring talented, compassionate and motivated nurses at each of our five state hospitals. Job descriptions and applications are available by location at Recruiters accept applications on an ongoing basis.

DBHDD nurses are among the best in the mental health field in Georgia and in the U.S. Our registered nurses (RN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) work with professional colleagues who are committed to providing high-quality care to the individuals we serve. We encourage our nurses and provide them opportunities to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

Our nurses have a variety of career opportunities which may be clinical, programmatic or leadership-focused. An RN in our hospitals may advance to a charge nurse, nurse educator, nurse auditor, nurse manager or administrator, specialty or advanced practice nurse, nurse practitioner or nurse executive. Positions for RNs and LPNs are open in Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Milledgeville and Savannah. Applicants are generally able to choose the shift they would like to work.

We offer competitive salaries, including shift differentials for nurses who work on second or third shift. Additionally, our full-time nurses are eligible for the state’s comprehensive benefits package—one of the best available in Georgia.

DBHDD nurses are at the forefront of health care delivery for people with behavioral health challenges and developmental disabilities. Interested parties are invited to apply for a position today, and see why there is no better place to help people in the state of Georgia than with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.