Cohort 2 of DBHDD’s Management Academy a Resounding Success

On July 17, DBHDD graduated the second cohort of the Management Academy, a six-month program designed to train and support emerging leaders within the department. The program was co-developed by DBHDD’s Office of Learning and Organizational Development and the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

In addition to the program curriculum, which covers topics such as “leading in the public sector” and “enhancing organizational effectiveness,” participants work in groups throughout the program to study and make recommendations on specific, DBHDD-focused issues and projects.

Before the lunchtime graduation ceremony, Cohort 2’s five interdisciplinary teams presented their findings to their classmates and DBHDD leadership.

Presentation Summaries:

Group 1: New Employee Orientation and Onboarding
Goal: To help DBHDD’s Office of Learning and Organizational Development by studying the department’s various new employee orientation programs and making recommendations on how to create standardized orientation program for all staff.

Team members: Julia Arthur, Katherine McKenzie, Ramona Pullin, Dr. Jamie Short, Candace Walker

Group 2: Bridging the Gap: IDD Waiver Funding Approval
Goal: To help improve the process of awarding waivers to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They interviewed DBHDD staff and families of individuals receiving waiver services. Recommendations included establishing a uniform communication process to ensure consistency and quality across our system.

Team members: Kenneth Ward, Allen Morgan, JaVonna Daniels

Group 3: Addressing the needs of dually diagnosed individuals
Goal: To help staff who care for dually diagnosed individuals access information that will help them provide better care by creating the website: Filling the GAP: Georgia Access Point. The site is intended to help staff improve care, mitigate challenges for people with a dual diagnosis, and identify cost savings that allow DBHDD to provide care to more individuals.

Team members: Brittaney Mills, CeCelia Dixie, Tiffany Snow, Linda Dykes, Holly Crowley, Yvonna Sherrell

Group 4: Communicating and Socializing DBHDD’s Vision and Mission Statements
Goal: To help the department promote our vision and mission statements to DBHDD staff, providers, advocates, consumers and the general public.

Team members: Marcy Burns, Andrea Harrelson, Fatma Jones, Michael Link, Jill Mays

Group 5: Promotion of the Crisis Continuum
Goal: To improve marketing of education to individuals and families about crisis services.

Team members: Paula Walden, J.R. Gravitt, Kimberly Miller, Lori Hanes

Assertive Community Treatment Improves Outcomes for Individuals with SPMI

A recent DBHDD study found that individuals who participate in assertive community treatment (ACT) experience a significant decrease in both hospital readmission and length of inpatient stay as a result of ACT participation. ACT is a community-based alternative to hospitalization for people who have a severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI) which has interrupted their ability to live in the community successfully. It is often referred to as a “hospital without walls” because it provides a full range of treatment and supports that enable individuals with SPMI to live in the community.

Data collected by the department over a 6-month period showed a 56 percent decrease in the number of days of hospital admission and a 69 percent decrease in the number of individuals receiving inpatient services. The sample included 264 individuals enrolled in ACT services.

The study was conducted to determine the short-term effectiveness of the ACT teams in reducing psychiatric hospitalization. Researchers compared the frequency of hospitalizations prior to and during enrollment, and after discharge. Future research will investigate longer-term outcomes of ACT services, as well as other services in the DBHDD continuum of care.

The 22 ACT teams included in this study serve more than 1,400 people in Georgia by providing a full range of treatment and supports to enable individuals with SPMI to live in the community. Services include counseling, medication, case management and peer support. The goal of ACT is to reduce hospitalization, incarceration and homelessness, and to promote community integration. Georgia’s 22 state-funded ACT teams receive oversight, guidance, technical assistance and fidelity monitoring from DBHDD’s Office of Adult Mental Health.

System of Care Academy focuses on children’s behavioral health care

IMG_1285-croppedDBHDD hosted the 8th annual System of Care Conference at the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott in Stone Mountain. More than 500 providers, agency partners, advocates, youth and families attended the three-day event, which featured expert speakers, panels and workshops on children’s behavioral health care.

System of Care is a nationally recognized model designed to improve treatment and support for children and youth who have a serious emotional disturbance. The System of Care concept puts children and their families at the center of their treatment planning.

“Georgia’s System of Care is about embracing children and families,” said DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry, who delivered Wednesday’s opening remarks. “We’re all working together to coordinate efforts to improve the care we deliver.”

The System of Care model emphasizes coordination between agencies and providers that serve Georgia’s children and the families and children they serve. This allows everyone in a child’s support system to focus on what is best for that child, and to minimize disruptions in his or her life.

“We provide better care to children and families when agencies and providers collaborate,” said Matt Yancey, who leads DBHDD’s Office of Children, Young Adults and Families. “Our job at the academy is to answer the question, ‘how can we serve Georgia’s children and families better?’”

Participants in Georgia’s System of Care work together to serve children in their own communities, aiming to reduce the need for out-of-home care in psychiatric residential treatment facilities, foster homes, or under supervision of the Department of Juvenile Justice. To learn more about DBHDD services for children and families, visit our website.

Deaf Services co-sponsors annual statewide conference

DBHDD Deaf Services co-sponsored the Georgia Association for the Deaf Conference (GAD) held June 17 – 21 at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. The conference provided a forum where leaders exchanged valuable information about the promotion of the rights of Deaf people.

This venue provided the first opportunity for the Deaf Services of DBHDD to introduce its new branding efforts to spread the vision of communication equity in the delivery of services. Deaf Services rolled out a new theme: Access, Inclusion, and Respect, and incorporated it within the booth concept and video. These three aspects communicate the commitment to change the course of communication service delivery.

“The Deaf Services team understands and appreciates the value of access; for without it, individuals cannot be heard. Our team focus remains advocacy for Georgia’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing citizens, ensuring that they have a voice in the process of service delivery,” said Dr. Candice Tate, Director of Deaf Services.

Dr. Tate hosted an open forum, encouraging the Deaf community to enter into a dialogue about their concerns and perception of the state of mental health and service delivery in Georgia’s Deaf community. Some of the issues discussed included group home administration and whether a dedicated Deaf group home could exist. Additional questions were poised concerning Deaf Services funding. In addition, quality of care questions and concerns on behalf of immediate family members were raised about how to qualify and obtain services for their respective family members.

DBHDD Deaf Services sought to deliver the educational message by modeling respect for each individual at the conference by actively engaging each participant, answering their questions, and providing information face to face. Kelly Stockdale, a Deaf Operations Analyst for DBHDD, said, “Being able to model these concepts of access, inclusion and respect in an environment of open dialogue, where we are listening to others, allows us to gather the information that will support removing barriers, and positions the team to define, implement, and measure the effectiveness of our services.”

Other topics discussed during the conference included the use of video remote interpreting (VRI) in hospitals, the challenges of utilizing VRI and the impact of replacing live interpreters. The DBHDD Deaf Services focus on inclusion and respect correlated with Chris Wagner’s discussion of oppression, both within and external to the Deaf community. Additional topics included a presentation by “HEARD” (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf) concerning the advocacy of rights for Deaf individuals held or incarcerated within the local, county, and state legal systems.

The GAD Conference continues to provide a forum where key information within and about the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities can be shared. Partners and stakeholders include a cross-section of individuals with a vested interest in the Deaf community. This group remains dedicated to the protection and promotion of the rights of the Deaf through advocacy.

New type of leave supports education

To help balance work-life options for state employees, a new type of leave is now available for all full-time, non-temporary employees.  Eight hours of education support leave can be used each year to attend parent-teacher conferences, volunteer for classroom activities, attend graduation ceremonies or participate in field trips, among many other activities.

House Bill 313 was signed by Governor Nathan Deal into law this past May and has been in effect since July 1. Employees can request to use the leave to participate in activities related to student achievement and academic support that promote public, private or home school education.

“What supports education is ultimately good for Georgia’s families on a variety of levels. It is also aligned with DBHDD’s evolution as a learning organization. We applaud the Governor’s continued efforts to enrich education in our state and encourage our employees to take advantage of this new benefit,” said Mark Green, DBHDD’s Director of Human Resources.

Please contact your direct supervisor or the Human Resources office for guidance on requesting and using this leave.