DBHDD partners with American Red Cross to train disaster mental health volunteers

Even though Georgia has not experienced any major weather disasters since the ice storms of early 2014, DBHDD is always planning and preparing for the next time our employees, providers, and the people we serve will be affected by an incident.  As designated in Georgia’s Emergency Operations Plan, DBHDD is responsible for coordinating all disaster preparedness and response activities related to behavioral health and developmental disabilities.

To support preparedness, DBHDD partners with the American Red Cross (ARC) of Georgia to create a one-day training for ARC disaster mental health volunteers.  This program has increased the number of trained ARC volunteers to more than 200, resulting in increased capacity for response throughout Georgia.  Most recently, DBHDD expanded our collaboration by delivering training for the Georgia Psychological Association on August 14, 2015.  Another class is scheduled for Grady Behavioral Health on October 30, 2015.

ARC disaster mental health volunteers with DBHDD’s Tier One providers to meet the needs of Georgians after a disaster.  Tier One providers are responsible for delivering continuity of care to individuals who receive DBHDD services and for providing emotional support to disaster survivors and responder personnel.  In addition to ARC disaster mental health classes, DBHDD offers classes in disaster mental health field response training four times a year.

Other preparedness activities carried out by DBHDD include:

  • Participation in disaster exercises
  • Assisting DBHDD providers with their disaster plans
  • Developing policy related to disaster preparedness and response
  • Collaboration with other emergency response agencies to ensure that they consider the needs of people served by DBHDD in their plans
  • Cooperation with federal partners regarding disaster planning
  • Implementation of DBHDD All-Hazards Disaster Response Plan during times of disaster
  • Administration of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program when warranted

DBHDD’s disaster preparedness and response program is housed under the Division of Behavioral Health’s Office of Adult Mental Health.  If you have questions or need assistance related to disaster planning and response, please contact Disaster Mental Health Services Coordinator Jeannette David at jeannette.david@dbhdd.ga.gov or (404) 657-2354.

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

DBHDD Management Academy

DBHDD is offering a new training program for managers within the agency. The “Management Academy” features a six-month curriculum designed to equip current and future leaders with the tools necessary to help the department achieve its mission of providing high-quality services in a changing behavioral health and developmental disability environment.

The Management Academy, developed by DBHDD’s Office of Learning and Organizational Development (OLOD) in partnership with the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, provides management training across all divisions of the agency. Using core components from other management programs, the Vinson Institute worked with OLOD to develop a curriculum that addresses needs and challenges specific to DBHDD.

“The Management Academy allows us to come out of our day-to-day jobs and look at leadership in a multidisciplinary way,” said Debbie Atkins, regional service administrator for behavioral health in DBHDD’s region one. Atkins is a member of the inaugural class, which began in May. “In the sessions, we are learning how to apply basic management and leadership skills to real-life challenges that we encounter in our jobs.”

Former OLOD director Erick Allen began working with the Vinson Institute in the summer of 2012 to develop the Management Academy. The program is intended to help DBHDD manage system changes that will lead to a better service delivery system for our clients and partners. Allen says that the academy was designed with three goals in mind: to support the department’s strategic change initiatives; to develop future and current leaders; and to improve job satisfaction and retention.

“The department has attracted the best and brightest in the fields of mental health, addictive diseases and developmental disabilities,” said Allen. “The purpose of the DBHDD Management Academy is to supplement the technical skills with the best methodologies in management and leadership.”

The program is limited to 25 participants and features classroom-style lectures and seminars, led by the Vinson Institute. Coursework includes supplemental reading and a capstone project. The class is divided into groups of three-to-five members across disciplines and tasked to design a project which examines an aspect of management that applies to DBHDD. The sessions allow some time to work on the project, but many groups also meet between the sessions. Each group will present its findings during the graduation ceremony and make a formal recommendation to DBHDD leadership.

Sessions are held in different location throughout Georgia and cover a variety of topics. The first two focused on “leading in the public sector” (Atlanta) and “developing people” (Macon). Upcoming sessions include:

  • Unleashing the power of inclusion (August 7-8)
  • Managing change and transformation (September 18-19)
  • Building capacity (October 30-31)
  • Graduation: enhancing organizational effectiveness (November 20-21)

The DBHDD Management Academy is designed for emerging leaders within the department and intended for people who have worked for DBHDD for at least two years and are no less than five years from retirement. Graduates will receive a certificate in leadership from the University of Georgia.

A new class will start again in January 2015 and will be offered twice each year. Participants must be nominated by their supervisors. Contact Donna Johnson, interim director of OLOD at donna.johnson@dbhdd.ga.gov for information on program requirements.

System of Care Academy: Engaging youth, parents and providers

In June, the Interagency Directors’ Team of the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council hosted the 7th annual System of Care Academy in Stone Mountain. Partnering agencies included DBHDD, the Division of Family and Children Services and the juvenile justice, community health, public health and education departments, along with the Georgia State University Center of Excellence for Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health.

The three-day conference is the largest statewide multi-disciplinary gathering in the field of children’s behavioral health in Georgia, attracting over 400 parents, youth, agency staff and providers this year.

“The System of Care Academy allows for cross systems staff, providers, parents and youth to come together, learn together and work together,” said Linda Henderson-Smith, Ph.D., who chairs the conference and is director of DBHDD’s Office of Children, Young Adults and Families.

System of care involves coordination of a wide array of community-based services centered on individualized care and full participation from youth and their families.

The theme of this year’s conference was Ideal to Real. The goal is to train families and providers so that the system of care philosophy can be implemented at the local and community level.

“The System of Care Academy is about people working together,” said Henderson-Smith. “Parents are the drivers, and youth preferences are included in their treatment plans. At the academy, they learn practical information and strategies for implementing the System of Care framework at local county regional and state levels. It’s exciting to watch!”

Dougherty Leadership Development Institute integrates individuals with disabilities into community leadership roles

The Dougherty Leadership Development Institute (DLDI) brings together individuals with disabilities and community leaders. The institute focuses on educating participants about Dougherty County and raising awareness of community organizations and agencies serving people of disabilities. The program is a collaborative effort of the Albany Advocacy Resource Center (Albany ARC), the Georgia Vocational Rehabilitation Agency and alumni of Leadership Albany. Since its creation in 1991, DLDI has produced over 400 graduates.

“In our community, we have individuals with disabilities who have the ability to be leaders but have never had the opportunity. DLDI integrates individuals with disabilities and community leaders in a leadership training program, opening doors for individuals with disabilities to become leaders and involved in our community by serving and volunteering,” says Annette Bowling, retired executive director, Albany ARC.

The program is modeled after Leadership Albany with the added goal of integrating persons with disabilities and non-disabled persons into the leadership community.

The DLDI has a threefold purpose:

    1. To allow individuals with diverse disabilities and non-disabled individuals to become more knowledgeable about common issues, needs, concerns, resources and opportunities which “cut across” disability lines;
    2. To provide the opportunity for leadership skills development aimed at empowering participants to have even more influence over decisions which affect their lives; and
    3. To establish a network for better communication and relationships between individuals with differing disabilities, as well as with organizations/agencies working for and with people of disabilities.

The institute’s class sessions include: diversity training; health and human services; education and communication; healthcare facilities/hospitals; courts and public safety; business and economic development; and arts and cultural activities.

For more information about DLDI, contact the Albany ARC at (229) 888-6852.