Commissioner Berry to give the welcome address  at conference on opioid addiction  

The public health crisis of opioid addiction, which includes prescription medication and heroin, will be addressed at this year’s annual conference of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, Inc., (AATOD). The national conference, taking place March 28 – April 1 in Atlanta, features experts from the White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state governments, and the healthcare industry.

As the conference host agency, DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry will welcome all attendees on behalf our agency as a keynote presenter at the opening plenary session on March 30. He will also describe Georgia’s efforts in providing addiction treatment and recovery services. Others speakers at the session include Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and AATOD President Mark W. Parrino, who will present AATOD’s work with government in support of evidence-based opioid treatment.

Registration to the AATOD conference allows attendees access to workshops, pre-conference sessions and an exhibitor hall where more than 1500 people, including healthcare professionals, program administrators and other treatment providers, are expected to attend.

Statewide symposiums promote recovery-oriented system of care

Recovery from mental health and substance abuse challenges happens when people can access natural support systems and engage in a life of independence. DBHDD, through the Office of Recovery Transformation, is partnering with the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, and Georgia Parent Support Network as well as behavioral health providers, stakeholders, and families across the state to host “Recovery Symposiums” that foster the development of recovery-oriented communities.

“The Recovery Symposiums are the evolution of the numerous community forums and listening sessions held throughout Georgia as we continue the work of transforming our services to a community-based, recovery-oriented system of care,” said Mark Baker, director of DBHDD’s Office of Recovery Transformation.

The first Recovery Symposium kicked off in Augusta earlier this month. The next event will be held on Saturday, March 21 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in Savannah.

Upcoming Sessions:

March 28, 2015: Warner Robins

April 10, 2015: Athens

April 10, 2015: Dublin

April 18, 2015: Atlanta

April 21, 2015: Cornelia

April 29, 2015: Moultrie

To learn more about the Recovery Community Development Project and additional symposiums, visit

Legislative update


Friday marked day 30 of the 2015 legislative session. Day 30 is also known as Crossover Day because all bills must pass out of their originating chamber, and therefore cross over to the other chamber, by this date in order to have a chance to become laws this year.

DBHDD Agency Legislation

House Bill 288 will add two new members to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council. It passed out of the House on day 29 and is currently in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

House Bill 512 will update the Georgia Code to align with changes occurring in DBHDD’s reorganization. Additionally, it redefines the role of the current regional planning boards and renames them regional advisory councils. It passed out of the House on day 29 and is currently in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.

Senate Bill 131 will modify DBHDD’s crisis stabilization unit (CSU) licensing authority to a certifying authority. This will allow DBHDD to quickly adopt standards of care based on the changing needs of the individuals at those service sites. It passed out of the Senate on day 26 and is currently in the House Health and Human Services Committee.

Two notable resolutions include House Resolution 641, which will create the Joint Study Committee on Children’s Mental Health, and House Resolution 642, which will create the Joint Study Committee on Postsecondary Education and Employment Options for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Governor Nathan Deal has already signed one bill of importance to DBHDD into law. Senate Bill 53 extends a provision created by last year’s Senate Bill 65, which permitted licensed professional counselors to perform emergency examinations of individuals experiencing mental health or drug- and alcohol-related crises. The original bill established a pilot provision that expired on March 15, 2015.  Senate Bill 53 extends the provision until June 30, 2018.

Lawmaker addresses suicide prevention in schools

House Bill 198, the Jason Flatt Act-Georgia, was offered by Representative Katie Dempsey (R-Rome) and recently passed by unanimous vote in the Georgia House of Representatives.

The bill is aimed at preventing suicide among Georgia’s school-aged population. Suicide ranks only behind unintentional injury as the leading cause of death for 10- to 24-year-olds. If enacted, the bill requires suicide awareness and prevention training for all certified education personnel in Georgia’s public schools. It also provides for a collaborative effort between the Georgia Department of Education and DBHDD, whereby DBHDD will help to develop a list of approved training materials to be used by school systems.

To learn about Jason Flatt, the namesake of the bill, visit the Jason Foundation website.

DBHDD unveils new vision and mission statements

DBHDD unveiled new vision and mission statements this week emphasizing the agency’s commitment to providing high-quality care to people with behavioral health challenges and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Easy access to high-quality care that leads to a life of recovery and independence for the people we serve.

Leading an accountable and effective continuum of care to support people with behavioral health challenges, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in a dynamic health care environment.

“At every level of our work, we are committed to providing easy access to high-quality care,” said Commissioner Berry. “The new vision and mission statements reflect the work we have focused on for the last several years.”

This marks the first change to DBHDD’s vision and mission statements since the agency was created in 2009.