Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Haslam Receives Employment First Task Force Report

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 01:16 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.

Tennessee Celebrates National Wellness Week

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 10:50 am

NASHVILLE –Many Tennesseans who struggle with mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and co-occurring disorders are dedicating themselves to getting more active. Their efforts will be celebrated during National Wellness Week (September 15-21) when hundreds of Tennesseans from Memphis to Morristown will come together to focus on physical health as a means to living longer, more productive lives.

“Recent studies show that people with serious mental illness die, on average, at least 25 years earlier than people without,” said Sue Karber, Director of Consumer Wellness and Employment Programs for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “Our focus is on helping people improve their overall well-being and resiliency to live healthy and purposeful lives.”

Karber and her team are leading the effort in Tennessee through the “My Health, My Choice, My Life” initiative, aimed at helping people with mental illness, substance abuse disorders, and co-occurring disorders by increasing healthy behaviors and decreasing symptoms.  

Veteran Suicides on the Rise in Tennessee

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | 04:21 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Douglas Varney and Tennessee Department Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced the number of suicides by Veterans increased from 197 in 2012 to 214 in 2013.


September is National Suicide Prevention Month which is an initiative to raise awareness about the tragic trend and the resources available to offer support.


"Sadly, our brave men and women who once served in uniform may struggle with thoughts of suicide and thoughts of giving up," Varney said. "They must always know they are never alone."


"The wounds of war are not always visible, but can at times manifest under the surface for some Veterans who may not realize how quickly depression can become a critical situation," Grinder said. "One suicide is too many and we are committed to increasing awareness about available resources and identifying gaps to better serve struggling Veterans."

Veteran Suicides on the Rise in Tennessee

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 | 01:20 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Douglas Varney and Tennessee Department Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder today announced the number of suicides by Veterans increased from 197 in 2012 to 214 in 2013.

September is National Suicide Prevention Month which is an initiative to raise awareness about the tragic trend and the resources available to offer support.

Tennesseans Urged to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

Tuesday, September 09, 2014 | 02:48 pm

NASHVILLE –More than 1,000 people in Tennessee die each year from drug overdoses, according to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and many of those deaths could have been prevented if unused prescriptions were disposed of properly.


People across Tennessee are encouraged to join the fight against prescription drug abuse, by removing unused pills from their homes and safely disposing of unused prescriptions during National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, September 27.


This month’s Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is the second in 2014, and gives people the opportunity to remove medicines that have expired, are no longer being taken and pose a threat to others if taken by accident or fall into the wrong hands.


Prescription Drug Abuse Tops Alcohol Abuse in Tennessee

Thursday, August 28, 2014 | 03:55 pm

NASHVILLE – Abuse of prescription opioids, ie: pain medications, is the number one drug problem for Tennesseans receiving publicly funded assistance for treatment services. Over the past decade, substance abuse admissions for prescription drugs like: hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone have increased 500%.

The situation has dramatically driven admissions to treatment facilities way up, from 764 in 2001 to 3,828 admissions in 2011.  


 “As of July 1, 2012, the number of admissions in our state for prescription drug abuse exceeded admissions for alcohol abuse for the first time in history,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS).

You're Not Alone: A Message on Suicide Prevention

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | 12:00 pm

Commissioner E. Douglas Varney shares hope following the death of Robin Williams


Through the untimely death of entertainer Robin Williams, a bright light is shining once again on the often-avoided conversation about suicide.

In my work over the years as a mental health professional, helping people through crisis of spirit, marriage and family, I have seen firsthand how people feel hopeless in their struggle. I have also seen the tragic consequences of someone committing suicide and the family members left behind.

Today, as the Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, my mission is to help people out of that dark lonely place and to know there is hope.


Haslam Appoints Task Force On Sentencing and Recidivism

Thursday, August 14, 2014 | 10:27 am

Group to develop legislative and policy recommendations  
                                                                                                                                
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the formation of the Governor’s Task Force on Sentencing and Recidivism as part of the administration’s overall effort to reduce crime and improve public safety.
 
In June, the Governor’s Public Safety Subcabinet announced a partnership with the Vera Institute of Justice to review sentencing and correction policies and practices.  The creation of a task force is the next step in that collaboration.

Drug Overdose Deaths Continue to Rise in Tennessee

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 | 02:22 pm

New State Law on ‘Overdose Antidote’ Naloxone Use Now in Place

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Health’s Vital Statistics office today released data on 2013 drug overdose deaths in the state. The 1,166 fatalities last year involved prescribed and illegal drugs, unintentional and intentional overdoses, and compares with 1,094 overdose deaths in 2012. In each of the last two years, more people died from drug overdoses in Tennessee than in either motor vehicle accidents or homicides or suicides*.

State Leaders to Discuss Prescription Drug Plan During Visit to Tri-Cities on Friday, July 18

Wednesday, July 09, 2014 | 01:08 pm

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) Commissioner E. Douglas Varney and Department of Health Commissioner Dr. John Dreyzehner will join other state and community leaders to discuss a plan to tackle the widespread epidemic of prescription drug abuse in Tennessee during a visit to the Tri-Cities area on Friday, July 18. Members of the news media and the public are invited to attend.