Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

Tennessee's Plan to Reduce Chronic Homelessness

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 | 03:24 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 | 01:10 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 | 11:13 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 | 11:13 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 | 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).