DHR partnering with advocates to improve system

November 30, 2007

ATLANTA – In an effort to better support people with severe mental illness, the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) is partnering with leading mental health advocates in a first-ever mental health taskforce. The partnership will serve to improve quality of care and how services are delivered within statewide psychiatric hospitals and across local communities.

"Partnering with advocates, who have their ears to the ground, is critical to our work," said Gwen Skinner, Director for DHR’s Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. Similarly, Nora Haynes, Executive Director for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) believes, "this partnership is the right thing to do and it will make our state more efficient."

In a recent report, NAMI evaluated Georgia’s service delivery system, suggesting more and better services. As a result, the state has created a first-ever DHR/NAMI mental health taskforce concentrating on seven goals to improve the hospital and community system. The goals are: open access to medication, improved continuity of care, centralized navigation system of mental health services, pass and fund a mental health ombudsman, provide safe housing, expand crisis intervention services and create a new mental health oversite authority. A blue-ribbon plan for executing recommendations should be in place within 12 to 18 months.

Already underway are enhanced policies to improve hospital over-crowding, medical management, physician documentation and staffing. As a result, hospitals have added significantly more healthcare professionals and are improving patient care and safety. In addition, the state is preparing a new purchasing plan for adult mental health community services, to be implemented over the next year.

For information, contact:
Kenya Bello; 404.657.1389

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