Join us as we celebrate National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

Governor Deal issued a proclamation declaring May 3-9, 2015 as Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week in Georgia. In support of children’s mental health, DBHDD and our partners at the Georgia Parent Support Network, Mental Health America of Georgia, Voices for Georgia’s Children, and the Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health, are celebrating Georgia’s children and recognizing the unique challenges they deal with related to mental health.

On May 7, a rally will be held in downtown Atlanta. All are welcome and encouraged to wear a green ribbon. Registered attendees will also receive a free t-shirt. Registration will take place at the Freight Depot, and the event will kick off with a rally at the Capitol. After the rally, participants will return to the Freight Depot for a panel discussion on school-based supports for children’s mental and behavioral health.

The National Federation of Families sponsors National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week annually to raise awareness of issues in the field of children’s mental health in the United States. This year’s theme, “Mental Health is Fundamental,” emphasizes that mental health is essential to children’s overall health, and equally important to physical health in integrated care settings.

Children’s Mental Health Day Agenda (May 7)
9:00 a.m. Registration & light refreshments at the Freight Depot in the blue room
10:00 a.m. Rally at the Capitol
11:00 a.m.Panel discussion: “Education and Mental Health” at the Freight Depot (concludes at 12:30 p.m.)


Building at Central State Hospital gets a fresh coat of paint

One of the oldest buildings on Milledgeville’s Central State Hospital campus received a fresh upgrade with a large-scale art mural.

“I wanted something painted on the wall that would reflect what is happening today at Central State Hospital,” said Darrell Davis, director of STEMversity. “There are a lot of great opportunities happening there for a lot of people.”

Matt Jackson, a junior at Savannah School of Arts & Design, painted a phoenix rising from ashes last month on the exterior wall of the Wilkes building. “I couldn’t believe that he wanted me to actually paint a mural on the outside of the building,” said Jackson. “Mr. Davis said what better way to use my concept since Central State is trying to rise up again.”

Artwork by Matt Jackson, junior at the Savannah School of Arts & Design
Artwork by Matt Jackson, junior at the Savannah School of Arts & Design

Davis is the founder of Committee for Action Programs Services – Analytical Training Laboratory (CAPS-ATL), the non-profit organization which runs STEMversity. STEM stands for “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math”. STEMversity, which introduces middle and high school students from the Milledgeville area to the study of forensic science, will start its second Summer Science Training Academy this year on the CSH campus.

“It’s another way to bring art to STEM, too,” Jackson said. “Actually, I think they need to add the letter A to the word STEM to represent art.”

Watch a video of Matt Jackson painting the mural.


2015 legislative session recap

The Georgia General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on Thursday, April 2. DBHDD offered the following bills which now await signature by Governor Deal:

House Bill 288 will add two new members to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council.

House Bill 512 will update Georgia law to align with changes occurring in DBHDD’s internal reorganization. Additionally, it clarifies the role of the current “regional planning boards” and renames them “regional advisory councils.”

Senate Bill 131 will modify the DBHDD crisis stabilization unit (CSU) licensing authority to a certifying authority, which will allow DBHDD to quickly adopt standards of care based upon the changing needs of the individuals seeking at those service sites.

Recovery-Focused Technical Assistance pilots with four DBHDD providers

DBHDD provides community-based, recovery-oriented care to help people live meaningful and fulfilling lives. The department is partnering with the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network (GMHCN), the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse (GCSA), and the Georgia Parent Support Network (GPSN) to offer Recovery-Focused Technical Assistance. This program supports community provider staff by sharing practices that promote a recovery-focused approach to all services. The organizations involved with this work are part of the Georgia Recovery Initiative, which seeks to promote recovery in Georgia.

“DBHDD, through the Office of Recovery Transformation, is building community recovery partnerships with community providers, stakeholders, and families,” said Office of Recovery Transformation Director Mark Baker, whose team is leading DBHDD’s efforts with the program.

CSB of Middle Georgia staff with program facilitators. Photo credit: Dina McDonald
CSB of Middle Georgia staff with program facilitators. Photo credit: Dina McDonald

Funded by DBHDD, the program has piloted with the CSB of Middle Georgia (Dublin), Advantage Behavioral Health (Athens), Cobb-Douglas CSB (Marietta) and Community Friendship (Atlanta). A team of facilitators, made up of consultants Dr. Dietra Hawkins and Dr. David Stayner, along with Brent Hoskinson and James Guffey of GMHCN, and Owen Dougherty and Tony Sanchez of GCSA, conducted the workshops and are continuing with follow-up technical assistance at each organization.

The program’s goal is to help provider staff make recovery sustainable for the people they serve. “This means supporting people as they move toward the life that they want to live, a joyful and happy life, that is based on their goals, dreams, and aspirations,” said Brent Hoskinson, one the program facilitators. “We are seeing amazing projects coming out of this process that organizations can put into practice almost immediately.”

The Recovery-Focused Technical Assistance program encourages collaboration between DBHDD’s providers on effective strategies for sustaining recovery. “What better process could there be than one that offers to our providers the opportunity to build on what they already know, what works best in their local community, and gives them an opportunity to learn from the successes of others?,” Hoskinson said.

“I was truly amazed at the energy, excitement, and participation during the two-day learning event,” said facilitator James Guffey. “By working in collaboration, as an inclusive team, this really mirrored what recovery is all about.”

Staff at CSB of Middle Georgia, the initial pilot site, gave the program rave reviews. Read what they had to say below:

“I learned so much and am looking forward to working with this group of people.”
Shannon Corso

“My experience with [the workshop] was amazing. I learned so much about myself and my fellow co-workers. I developed a strong bond with many co-workers that I had never met before or knew very little of. It strengthened my commitment to my job as well as the individuals that I serve.”
Ashley Lewis

“I am grateful and blessed that I work at CSB of Middle Georgia and about how open and enthused we all are in the positive changes to come.”
Lisa Clark

“I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop. We were visited by many wonderful people, including Dr. Dietra Hawkins and Dr. David Stayner who helped us reignite the fire in the employees here in Central Georgia. Sometimes we start to lose sight, or forget, about what really matters: improving people’s lives. The [workshop] helped us put this back into perspective and helped us realize that change was not as difficult, nor as scary, as it seemed. Now, we have begun some small success projects and we’re also discussing the future — bigger successes. I know we truly have become an even more recovery oriented center with your assistance, support and encouragement.”
Elizabeth Button

“I really got a lot out of the training. It helped me to see that the people we help do have a voice. For me as a recovering person that is very encouraging. It also encouraged me to share my story. I really want to help others find that hope that they too can get well and recover from addiction, mental illness, or whatever the problem is. You can recover!!! How bad do you want to recover?”
Cynthia Thigpen

“When our team started out…, I believed that we would all learn new things. I absolutely had no idea that the two days spent with our Change Team and Change Team 2 members would have been as inspiring and humbling as they were. Dr. Dietra Hawkins, Dr. David Stayner, along with Owen Dougherty, Brent Hoskinson, Tony Sanchez, and James Duffey, were without blemish in their methods of keeping us on task and our eyes and hearts focused toward recovery. It was an emotionally-laden two days, but a wonderful opportunity to build our team relationships, both individually and collectively. It was the absolute best kick-off training to being a more recovery-focused agency that I have participated in during my tenure with the CSB of Middle Georgia. Our clinical, support, and administrative staff, as well as our staff with lived experience are excited to be participating with DBHDD as a pilot with regard to [the] training, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of our labors in the projects that we are undertaking at our agency,  as well as the ripple effect that will occur in our community following our symposium, which is planned for April 10, 2015. The excitement, energy, and inspiration from those days in late February continue to resonate at our agency. We are looking for exceptionally good things to happen here throughout the weeks and months to come.”
Denise Forbes, CEO

Paces Foundation develops new special needs community for View Point Health

A new affordable housing community providing integrated care for residents with specials needs opened in Covington last week. The grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on March 25 at the Clover Bridge apartments, which includes 28 one-bedroom units and several shared community rooms. 


“Clover Bridge is a beautiful place to live and thrive in recovery. View Point Health is honored to offer individuals experiencing homelessness a permanent supported housing opportunity. Residents are supported by our wide service array customized to meet their individual needs while living in their own apartments,” said Jennifer Hibbard, CEO of View Point Health. 


Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, the housing community was developed by The Paces Foundation, which transferred ownership to View Point Health, DBHDD’s community service board for Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale counties. 


“Clover Bridge posed unsurpassed challenges of complexity of interface with the many different partners and government agencies necessary to its completion. The design of the building, apartments and common areas as well as its placement within, and support from, the local community added to these monumental challenges. Paces is proud to have had the necessary skills and experience, garnered over 25 years of experience and more than 2500 units of affordable workforce housing, to weave these many stakeholders and challenges into the wonderful facility which is Clover Bridge: 28 one bedroom apartments for our chronically homeless mentally ill citizens,” said Mark du Mas, president of The Paces Foundation. 


The Paces Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides affordable housing and services for low-income residents.