• Time to Change View on Addiction: Not a Moral Failing

    Thursday, November 17, 2016 | 11:33am

    NASHVILLE- A new Surgeon General’s report finds alcohol and drug misuse and severe substance use disorders, commonly called addiction, to be one of America’s most pressing public health concerns.  Nearly 21 million Americans – more than the number of people who have all cancers combined – suffer from substance use disorders. In Tennessee, it is estimated that 373,000 adults and 26,000 youth have a substance use disorder.

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • 1,451 Tennesseans Die from Drug Overdoses in 2015

    Tuesday, November 15, 2016 | 10:59am

    NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Health data show 1,451 people died from drug overdoses in the state in 2015. This is the highest annual number of overdose deaths recorded in state history and brings the five-year total for Tennessee to 6,036 lives lost. That figure is approximately the equivalent of every person on 40 mid-size jet liners dying.

    Health |Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services |Safety & Homeland Security

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  • Tennessee Move Initiative

    Monday, November 14, 2016 | 3:08pm

    Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service is set to launch the Tennessee Move Initiative. This will be a collaborative effort among the Department’s Division of Mental Health Services and Division of Hospital Services, to provide intensive and customized care coordination services to individuals in long-term units within Tennessee’s state owned regional mental health institutes.

    This statewide initiative will feature a local team in each Grand Division across the State of Tennessee.  After an announcement of funding, the Department has chosen and contracted with the following community providers to implement the Tennessee Move Initiative:

    • West Tennessee: Alliance Healthcare
    • Middle Tennessee: LifeCare Family Services
    • East Tennessee: Helen Ross McNabb Center

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Governor Haslam Recognizes Tennessee Veterans 2016

    Monday, November 07, 2016 | 10:00am

    NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Major General Terry “Max” Haston from the Tennessee Military Department to recognize five veteran state employees and more than 503,000 Tennessee veterans of all ages and eras.  The Governor’s Veterans Day event was held at the Tennessee Tower Plaza in downtown Nashville.

    “There are 2,425 veterans working in state government and more than 503,000 living in Tennessee,” Haslam said.  “We are grateful that many of these men and women have brought their most positive attributes of military service to help lead and transform state government.”

    Correction |Governor Haslam |Higher Education Commission |Human Resources |Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services |Veterans Services

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  • Sejal West Named Deputy Commissioner

    Friday, October 28, 2016 | 4:28pm

    Commissioner Marie Williams announces the appointment of Sejal West as the Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

    “I am pleased to announce Sejal West as the new Deputy Commissioner for the Department,” said Marie Williams, Commissioner Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “As Assistant Commissioner, Sejal’s extraordinary passion for serving those with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders helped lead the way for innovative and transformational progress in this State.”   

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Haslam Names Marie Williams Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

    Thursday, October 06, 2016 | 11:23am

    NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointment of Marie Williams as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services effective October 22. Williams will replace Commissioner Doug Varney who announced his retirement last week. Williams, 51, started with the department in 2000 and has served as deputy commissioner since 2011, directly managing the department’s daily operations and budget. As deputy commissioner, Williams has overseen a transformation in the mental health system in east Tennessee to better serve long-term patients by transitioning them into community-based programs. She also helped create the department’s Prescription for Success multi-faceted strategy to tackle the prescription drug epidemic in Tennessee.

    Governor Haslam |Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Haslam Announces Retirement of Doug Varney

    Thursday, September 29, 2016 | 12:10pm

    NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Doug Varney will retire next month. Varney has served as commissioner since 2011. Under Varney’s leadership, the department completed a major transformation in the mental health system in east Tennessee, better serving long-term patients by transitioning them into community-based programs. The department has also improved medical and business operations of state hospitals and made significant progress addressing the prescription drug epidemic.

    Governor Haslam |Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Substance Abuse Often Associated With Suicides In Tennessee

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016 | 3:02pm

    NASHVILLE – In observance of National Suicide Prevention Month, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is encouraging all Tennesseans living with depression, hopelessness, and threats of self-harm to seek help!

    “Most people who consider suicide have depression or a related mental illness, and as a result have a sense of hopelessness, said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “In Tennessee, it’s estimated that roughly half of the people who die by suicide have a measurable amount of alcohol in their system at the time of death.”

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Tennessee Increases Anti-Drug Coalitions To Prevent Substance Abuse

    Friday, August 19, 2016 | 8:33am

    NASHVILLE – In counties and communities across Tennessee, anti-drug coalitions are working to reduce dependence on harmful and potentially lethal substances such as prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. These local efforts, funded by the State of Tennessee since 2008, help get the word out about the dangers and consequences of substance use.  At the start of 2016, Tennessee provided funding for 33 county coalitions and two statewide. 

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Back to School: Helping Your Child Cope With Anxiety, Reducing Stress, Overcoming Fears

    Tuesday, July 19, 2016 | 2:22pm

    NASHVILLE – The first day of school for a child as well, as their parent, is a milestone moment, a period in time filled with hope, and great expectations.  For many children and parents, this is a time of excitement mixed with some anxiety. Children experiencing these brand new surroundings, for the first time, can find it both exhilarating and stressful.

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Golden Gate Bridge Survivor to Speak in Nashville: Kevin Hines to offer keynote address at crisis response conference

    Monday, June 27, 2016 | 3:31pm

    NASHVILLE - The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is pleased to welcome, Kevin Hines, award-winning global speaker, best-selling author, documentary filmmaker, and suicide prevention and mental health advocate to Nashville, Tuesday, June 28, 2016. Kevin has reached millions with his story of survival and his strong will to live. 

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • Men’s Mental Health Is More Important Than Ever

    Monday, June 13, 2016 | 11:56am

    NASHVILLE – In the United States, researchers have calculated that approximately 6 million men suffer from depression each year, and many are reluctant to disclose their mental illness symptoms or seek treatment. It is also estimated that one in four men will be affected by mental illness, resulting in feelings of stress, anxiety, and worse case, suicidal thoughts. These are troubling statistics. 

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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  • June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month

    Monday, June 06, 2016 | 11:21am

    NASHVILLE – In recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services wants to make sure that everyone understands the impact traumatic events can have. In some cases, experiencing trauma can result in lifelong anxiety and stress and can even lead to suicide.  

    It's important to recognize when you or someone you love may be experiencing PTSD. Many Tennesseans have had their lives changed overnight as a result of a traumatic experience.

    Trauma can come in many different forms and can cause physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual harm. The experience and impact is unique to every person.

    Trauma Associated with PTSD:

    • Physical or sexual assault
    • Natural disaster such as a tornado, flood, or fire
    • Being in or witnessing a serious car accident
    • Sudden or violent death of someone close
    • Serious injury, major surgery, or life-threatening illness
    • Domestic or family violence, dating violence, community violence
    • War, terrorism, bullying, or political violence

    “The way individuals respond to a traumatic event can vary,” said Dr. Howard L. Burley, Jr., Chief Medical Officer for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “There may be feelings of depression, fear, and grief.  Many times the behavioral and physical responses can include dizziness, nausea, flashbacks, nightmares, changes in sleep pattern and/or appetite, as well as withdrawal from daily activities.  It can take weeks, months, even years for individuals to begin to feel and behave normal again.”

    Not all individuals who experience traumatic events need to seek treatment.  In some cases, individuals have reported feeling better within a few months of an event.  However, if reactions linger too long, such as more than a month or get worse, it is likely the individual has developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and should seek treatment. 

    “Someone experiencing PTSD will typically mentally and emotionally relive the event,” said Dr. Burley. “In some cases they will go out of their way to make constant efforts to avoid reminders of the event, and develop signs of overwhelming sensitivity to changes in the local environment.”

    Studies indicate between 11-20% of veterans who have served overseas in recent combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom experience PTSD in a given year.

    “Tennessee is home to many military service members. In these communities’ adjacent to military bases like Clarksville, Tennessee, there is typically a high number of veterans with PTSD,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “There’s a tendency for former soldiers to settle near bases once they leave the service. This means we need to ensure there is a network of support in and near those communities for our veterans and their loved ones.”

    There are a variety of treatment options for PTSD.  Your physician may prescribe one or more of the following:

    • Cognitive Behavioral (“talk”) Therapy
    • Support Group
    • Medication

    “Without treatment, PTSD can lead to substance abuse, reliving the terror, heart attacks, depression, dementia, suicide, and/or stroke,” said Commissioner Varney. “Recovery is a gradual, ongoing process and taking that first step toward treatment can be the start of a more manageable and happy life.”

    PTSD in the United States is often linked to combat:

    • An estimated 5.2 million adults (3.6%) will experience PTSD annually
    • Estimates for military personnel tend to be much higher

    Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services

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