July 1, 2005
ATLANTA – Effective July 1, the Department of Human Resources Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases (MHDDAD), will implement significant changes to strengthen Georgia’s community-based mental health system. MHDDAD will expand services for persons with developmental disabilities, provide new community services for children and adolescents, and create a competitive marketplace to ensure greater access, quality services and cost efficiencies. Georgia’s behavioral health system will be different - and better.
The direction of Georgia is being guided by state and federal policies. As a result of Governor Sonny Perdue’s commitment to reform Georgia’s system, he created a new Task Force on Community Care for Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. Additionally, the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health – a national effort – is working with states to improve access to quality care and services. In the 1999 Olmstead decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized the right for those with mental illness and developmental disabilities to live in community settings and required states to provide these accommodations.
Scheduled changes are far reaching and have the potential to impact consumers, families, service providers and the larger Georgia community. "As with any significant change, we understand that many will see these changes as promising news, while some will have concerns," says Gwen Skinner, Director for MHDDAD. "These changes come from thoughtful analysis of our behavioral health delivery system and extensive dialogue with families and advocates. What we know is that creating a strong community-based system is the right thing to do, " says Skinner.
Highlight of Upcoming Efforts:
Establish community settings for consumers with developmental disabilities to live and work in communities near their homes.
Prevent unnecessary, long-term hospitalizations and ensure efficient use of hospitals. (In Georgia, adults and children are 2 ½ times more likely to be institutionalized than in any other state).
Create new community crisis stabilization programs for children and adults. Resources will go much further with new community services than with state institutions. The new system will also serve more consumers. The state’ s first child and adolescent crisis program will open in Savannah. Two new adult crisis programs will open in the Augusta and Athens area.
Expand Georgia’s Certified Peer Program - Georgia is the national leader in this area – to pilot peer services with people who are homeless and in recovery from mental illness.
Change the way that the state awards contracts by promoting an open market and requiring the use of evidence-based or high outcome practices.
Close the gap in service delivery by providing core services in every county throughout the state such as crisis stabilization programs – rural communities are a particular focus.
For information, contact:
Kenya Bello; 404.657.1389