DBHDD focuses on youth during May’s Mental Health Month

Earlier this month, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day with more than 200 supporters at the state Capitol. The event, which featured a panel on school-based mental health services, represents just one of the many ways that DBHDD promotes children’s mental health and the importance of early treatment for youth with serious emotional disturbances.

DBHDD’s Office of Children, Young Adults and Families provides assessment, counseling, therapy, crisis intervention, peer support, clubhouses and other services for youth and their families. Services are targeted toward children and adolescents (ages 4-17), and transition-aged youth and young adults (18-26) who often fall into a gap between child and adult mental health services.

A 2009 report by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine estimated that 13-20 percent of children living in the United States experience a mental health challenge in a given year, and that youth behavioral health disorders cost an estimated $247 billion annually. This figure includes costs associated with mental health treatment, lost productivity and criminal activity.

DBHDD is improving children’s mental health care through several initiatives.

Georgia System of Care
DBHDD’s Offices of Children, Young Adults and Families and Federal Grant Programs and Special Initiatives are working with partners across Georgia to build a strong system of care for children’s mental health services. The system of care primarily serves people from birth to age 21 who experience a diagnosable emotional, socio-emotional, behavioral or mental health disorder that impairs their functioning in family, school or community settings.

The Georgia System of Care seeks to change the way children’s mental health services are delivered by bringing together Georgia’s child-serving agencies and organizations to provide integrated care that is comprehensive and effective. The system is recovery-focused and takes a family-driven, youth-guided approach to service delivery. System of care focuses on workforce development, system-level planning, social marketing and support for youth and young adults. Clubhouses serve people with co-occurring mental health and substance use challenges.

The 2015 Georgia System of Care Academy will take place on July 14-16 at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott in Stone Mountain. We will share more information about the academy in upcoming DBHDD newsletters.

Listening, Inspiring and Guiding Health Transitions (LIGHT) Initiative
The LIGHT Initiative focuses on the young adult population and includes development of policy and practice improvements, as well as treatment for first-episode psychosis. The program will offer specialized training and a provider toolkit to DBHDD providers.The initiative is supported by DBHDD’s Offices of Children, Young Adults and Families and Federal Grant Programs and Special Initiatives.

Georgia Apex Project
The first signs of mental or emotional distress often appear when a child is at school. The Georgia Apex Project, supported by the Office of Children, Young Adults and Families, aims to reduce the number of youth with unmet mental health needs which often contribute to poor academic performance. The project supports school-based mental health programs, including early detection of mental health needs, and establishes better coordination between school districts and the state’s community service boards. The Georgia Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health will provide ongoing technical assistance and support to Georgia Apex Project grantees.

Youth Mental Health Clubhouse
DBHDD also supports youth mental health clubhouses for children and families. Clubhouses offer a positive and healthy environment for youth struggling with mental health challenges or difficult family situations. Clubhouse staff help with homework, job placement, peer support, family engagement and social activities to engage youth and help them manage their symptoms. There are currently six youth clubhouses in Georgia and plans to create five more in 2015.Read about youth clubhouses on the DBHDD blog.

For more information, visit the Office of Children, Young Adults and Families on DBHDD’s website.

Recovery symposium highlights area resources in southwest Georgia

DBHDD, along with the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse, the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network, and the Albany and Moultrie chapters of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, co-sponsored Transforming 2 Wellness, a regional symposium held in Norman Park on April 29. The program highlighted area resources that help people achieve and sustain long-term recovery from mental health challenges and substance use disorders.

Speakers included individuals from Lee and Terrell counties, as well as other surrounding communities. Materials from exhibitors demonstrated the range of resources for mental health and addiction in southwest Georgia.

“We need to be very aware of what the local efforts are, what the local needs are, what the local gifts and the local talents are and that’s what we really trying to do here,” said Mark Baker, director of DBHDD’s Office of Recovery Transformation, which funds effort to raise recovery projects around the state.

See more photos from the symposium on the DBHDD Fackbook page.

GHRA offers community-like services within hospital

Bright white chairs and tables fill a café-like setting to the right of the large welcoming lobby and receptionist desk. Down the hall, classrooms are filled with people taking a variety of courses, from music therapy to computer basics to relaxation skills. A large art installation featuring the composer Ludwig van Beethoven and the mathematician John Forbes Nash greets everyone who enters the new treatment mall at Georgia Regional Hospital – Atlanta (GRHA).

“Patience, they say, is what I must now choose for my guide, and I have done so,” Beethoven wrote in a 1802 letter to his brothers as he suffered from bipolar disorder. This quote, along with many others, are displayed in the lobby and serve as inspiration for the adult mental health patients who participate in therapeutic programming.

Opened in February 2015, the modern facility “embraces recovery with dignity and empowers those we serve,” said Andy Nguyen, treatment mall director.

With a full schedule of classes, break times for socialization and snacks, and lunch at the campus cafeteria, patients learn necessary life skills for independent living when they transition back to their communities. There are nurses, psychologists, activity therapists, social workers and dieticians, among other professionals, on site to help with their recovery.

This new model of hospitalization, where community-like settings are highlighted and emphasized, stands in stark contrast to the old type of institutionalization and isolation of mental health hospitals in the past.

Dr. Charles Li, GRHA’s hospital administrator, said that the new treatment mall teaches people how to live independently, such as cooking and managing their money.  “You will see a lot of thought put into it – what it means to have active treatment and skilled training.  We have a computer lab … so they can get a GED education. When people go back into the community, they have some skills to live, to work, to support themselves,” Dr. Li added.

To aid in their recovery, the staff at the treatment mall use three different types of programming. Treatment through individual and group therapy and classes teaches people how to deal with their illness such as anger management and medication management. The educational classes provide life skills and also knowledge about their illnesses. The recreational classes, including art and music therapy, enrich their lives.

In addition to the new treatment mall, more improvements to the GRHA campus are underway. Renovations to an existing building will house DBHDD’s Region 3 office on the hospital campus. There will also be a new multimedia training facility and a recreation center.

See more photos of the GRHA Treatment Mall.

DBHDD staff provides an update on the settlement agreement


Last week, DBHDD staff provided an update on the settlement agreement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Georgia at the 20th annual Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum held at the Carter Center. Commissioner Frank Berry, Terri Timberlake, director of adult mental health, and Dan Howell, director of intellectual and developmental disabilities, presented to stakeholders on the progress toward building a high-quality, sustainable behavioral health system in the state.

Photo courtesy of Debbie Atkins.


Photo courtesy of Debbie Atkins


DBHDD begins work on IDD residential cost study

DBHDD is conducting a cost study for intellectual and developmental disability residential services. Residential services include community residential alternatives (group homes and host homes), community living supports, and respite services. The study will help the department create a new rate model that better accommodates individuals with varying levels of need.

Residential services are funded through the New Options Waiver (NOW) and Comprehensive Supports (COMP) waiver, a Medicaid program for individuals who need a full range of out-of-home services or intensive in-home services. These services account for about 65% of COMP waiver claims.

Partnering with a nationally recognized expert, DBHDD is collecting and analyzing provider data and developing draft rates. The department is engaging stakeholders and providing multiple opportunities for input, including provider surveys, webinars, and a public comment period. There is an advisory committee to help direct the study. The committee is made up of providers, a host home provider, and family members.

For more information about the cost study, please visit www.burnshealthpolicy.com/GeorgiaWaiverRates.

Individuals and family members should contact dbhddconstituentservices@dbhdd.ga.gov with any questions. DBHDD residential providers with questions about the survey may contact Stephen Pawlowski.

Nursing conference focuses on brain manipulation and stimulation

In celebration of National Nurses Week each year, West Central Georgia Regional Hospital hosts a nursing conference in Columbus. This year’s conference, “Manipulating the Brain: From Lobotomy to Deep Brain Stimulation,” enabled participants to apply knowledge of past and present interventions involving brain manipulation to identify patients who may benefit from these treatments.

The featured speaker was Dr. Nzinga Harrison, chief medical officer for Anka Behavioral Health Inc. and a member of the Clinical Adjunct Faculty in the nursing schools at Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine. Dr. Harrison spoke on several topics, including defining and describing brain manipulation techniques; describing the history and past uses of brain manipulation techniques; discussing alternative interventions and their safety with patients; and identifying alternative interventions for common neurological diseases.

Youth clubhouses provide safe and supportive environments across Georgia

Standing with Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore in green and yellow shirts printed with “Mental Health Awareness Month; Don’t let it stop you from shining,” kids from the SHINE clubhouse in Bulloch County were recognized this week for adopting an area to clean up and beautify.

The kids in the SHINE clubhouse program learn about community partnerships, attend various cultural events, take field trips to Atlanta, Stone Mountain and other attractions, visit nursing homes and create artwork and crafts to display at Stateboro’s First Friday events.

All these activities work toward the goal of recovery from substance use or mental health disorders by engaging youth and helping them manage behaviors and symptoms.

SHINE clubhouse kids attended the signing of the proclamation by Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore declaring May 3 – 9, 2015 Children’s Mental Health Week. Mayor Moore also recognized the youth for their work on “Adopt a Spot,” a local volunteer program that keeps public spaces clean.
SHINE clubhouse kids attended the signing of the proclamation by Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore declaring May 3 – 9, 2015 Children’s Mental Health Week. Mayor Moore also recognized the youth for their work on “Adopt a Spot,” a local volunteer program that keeps public spaces clean.

“In the clubhouse, youth participate in life skills groups, social outings, educational supports, career development and exploration and other activities that teach them how to maintain a healthy and sober lifestyle. Youth are also connected to resources that will empower them to make informed decisions about their recovery,” said Yomi Makanjuola, DBHDD’s director of treatment services.

DBHDD provides funding and offers support through staff training and site visits in partnership with local providers for two types of adolescent clubhouses: substance abuse recovery support clubhouses and resiliency support clubhouses.

Substance abuse recovery support clubhouses are for youth with a primary diagnosis of substance use disorder.  They provide a comprehensive recovery support model designed to engage youth and their families. Staff and clubhouse members work together to perform the jobs at the clubhouse and participate in social outings, educational supports, employment supports and transitional services. Most of the youth are between the age of 11 and 17 and are referred through probation, the Department of Juvenile Justice, community service boards and other substance abuse treatment programs.

As one component in the overall care that these adolescents receive, the clubhouses are designed to provide recovery support to youth as they strive to improve their life and wellness while decreasing or encouraging abstinence from alcohol and/or substance use.  Participants in the program either currently receive substance abuse treatment at a community service board or they have recently completed treatment at a private facility.

Resiliency support clubhouses are designed to provide a full array of unique services for children and families coping with the isolation, stigma and other challenges of mental health disorders. These clubhouse programs provide similar services to the substance abuse recovery support clubhouses, but also include peer support, family engagement and social activities.

SHINE clubhouse kids clean up their "Adopt a Spot".
SHINE clubhouse kids clean up their “Adopt a Spot”.

Pineland Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, a community service board in eastern Georgia, offers both types of programs, and an additional co-occurring clubhouse program. SHINE is a resiliency support clubhouse that provides after-school care for children and adolescents in the area. Snacks are provided and computers are available to use, allowing kids to do their homework in a safe, supportive environment.

“The clubhouses are not focused on treatment, but on skill-building and exposing the kids to enriching activities,” said Dr. Cynthia Cone-Dekle, director of behavioral health at Pineland.

Pineland also runs IMPACT, a clubhouse for youth dealing with substance abuse challenges. Members in this program are typically older teens.

As youth are discharged from the clubhouse programs, outcome measures have shown a decrease in substance use, Department of Juvenile Justice involvement, and behavioral problems. Parents of clubhouse members have reported an increase in positive social function, school attendance and performance and improved family involvement and relationships.

DBHDD funds nine substance abuse recovery support clubhouses and six resiliency support clubhouses across the state.

For locations of the substance abuse recovery support clubhouses, please see: http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/child-and-adolescent-services

For locations of the resiliency support clubhouses, please see: http://dbhdd.georgia.gov/office-cyf-services#clubs