Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Help for Tennessee Youth Abusing Prescription Drugs

Wednesday, November 19, 2014 | 03:37 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is teaming up with community anti-drug coalitions across a 10-county region of East Tennessee in an effort to reduce the number of young people who are abusing prescription drugs.


To help achieve this goal, TDMHSAS has secured nearly $7 million dollars in federal grant funds to engage with young people through public awareness campaigns and community-based prevention and enforcement efforts over a five-year period.


“Our objective is to reduce the abuse of prescription drugs by the 12 to 25 year old age group by more than four percent,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner, TDMHSAS. “If we’re successful, that will add up to thousands of young lives saved from disastrous consequences. We owe it to them, their families, and communities to do all we can.”

Supporting Survivors of Suicide in Tennessee

Monday, November 17, 2014 | 04:17 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) joins with survivors of suicide throughout the State of Tennessee and worldwide in recognition of the 2014 International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.


“We have lost so many to suicide, too many,” said E. Douglas Varney, TDMHSAS Commissioner. “Most notably this year was the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams, which has resulted in a tremendous amount of attention and awareness.”


Events in Tennessee to Focus on Grief and Recovery

Tennessee Offering More Resources to Pregnant Women

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | 02:02 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s prescription drug abuse epidemic is harming a generation of unborn and newborn infants across the state. In 2012, more than 42 percent of pregnant women served by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) listed prescription pain medicine as their primary substance of abuse. That is more than double the national average of approximately 18 percent.

“We want pregnant women struggling with addiction to know that they have access to dedicated community agencies that offer treatment for expectant mothers,” said E. Douglas Varney, TDMHSAS Commissioner.

Hundreds More to be Served in Tennessee Veterans Treatment Court

Thursday, November 06, 2014 | 10:37 am

NASHVILLE – Through a $1.5 million federal grant, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is providing increased funding to Veterans courts in Shelby County, Montgomery County and Davidson County. The result is an expansion of services, over a three-year period, giving hundreds more service members in Tennessee the option of pursuing treatment and recovery programs rather than incarceration.

Tennessee’s Veterans Treatment Court, which helps service members and Veterans who come into the criminal justice system, will be assisting 263 more Veterans over the next three years.


Tennessee Receives Nearly $5 Million to Prevent Suicides

Monday, November 03, 2014 | 04:16 pm

NASHVILLE  Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has been awarded two federal grants totaling nearly $5 million dollars, to reduce the rate of suicides in the state. The funds, from the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will be focused on preventing suicides statewide.


"The rate of suicides in Tennessee has been steadily increasing since the late 1980s," said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). "Suicide is a serious public health problem and a subject people are still very hesitant to talk about. These grant awards will allow us to address this threat and save lives."


Tennessee's Plan to Reduce Chronic Homelessness

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | 02:24 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is embarking on a three-year strategy to reduce homelessness among veterans and other chronically homeless people living with mental illness and/or struggling with substance abuse.


“This initiative is the first of its kind in Tennessee and brings together resources to help individuals who are chronically homeless,” said E. Douglas Varney, TDMHSAS Commissioner. “Many of our veterans and individuals who have been homeless for a long time are coping with addiction and mental illness. They are the people who will benefit from this coordination of state and county resources.”

Resources Available in Tennessee to Treat Depression

Tuesday, October 07, 2014 | 12:10 pm

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) encourages individuals who are struggling with depression, or thoughts of suicide, to seek help for themselves or a loved one.


“Clinical depression is a serious medical illness that can be diagnosed and is treatable, not a sign of weakness,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). “While it may sometimes seem like a passing phase, it’s an illness and it tends to run in families.”

Tennessee Showcasing Resources for Caregivers

Friday, October 03, 2014 | 10:13 am

NASHVILLE – The stress of caring for a loved one with special physical or emotion conditions can lead to an increased incidence of serious health issues for the caregiver, family breakups, and in some cases out-of-home placement of the individual with the disability.


The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is urging individuals who care for a child or adult at home to take advantage of respite care services.


“Respite care is vitally important to caregivers who just need a break from the stress of caring for a loved one,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of TDMHSAS. “Under constant stress, caregivers often experience loneliness, depression, and health issues which in some cases can result in the death of the caregiver.”


The State of Tennessee is considered a leader in respite care services for families of children with a serious emotional disturbance.

Teenage Binge Drinking in Tennessee Drops

Monday, September 22, 2014 | 10:13 am

NASHVILLE – Fewer teens and pre-teens in Tennessee are abusing alcohol, according to the findings of a five-year prevention effort. The emphasis was on changing community attitudes and behaviors and the risks of having five or more drinks on one occasion.


Lead by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), the state’s efforts achieved reductions in binge drinking well beyond the national average. During a period from 2009 – 2013, the statewide rate of binge drinking teens, between the ages of 14 and 17, dropped nearly 16%. In the 18 to 25 age range, the decrease was more than 5%.


“Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS). “The reduction in binge drinking speaks to a concerted effort by anti-drug community coalitions in the state, treatment providers, families, and young people themselves.”

Haslam Receives Employment First Task Force Report

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 12:16 pm

Report outlines progress made and future goals to increase disability employment


NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the completion of the Employment First Task Force report that outlines the steps the task force will take to expand integrated, competitive employment for people with disabilities as well as progress the group has already made.


Formed last year when the governor signed Executive Order No. 28, the task force is comprised of state agencies, families, consumer advocates and service providers, and it seeks to eliminate obstacles to employment for persons with disabilities and better leverage funds to increase opportunities.