Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Planning Committee
Welcome to the Department of Behavioral Health Establishment Planning Committee home page.
On January 11, 2013, Mayor Gray announced the establishment of a new Behavioral Health Department to improve the health and well-being of residents who receive mental health and substance abuse treatment and supports. This home page was created as a tool to solicit comments from our partners and to keep them and the public informed of our progress.
The new department will combine the Department of Mental Health (DMH) and the Addiction Prevention Recovery Administration (APRA) now in the Department of Health, effective October 1, 2013 with the approval of the Council of the District of Columbia. Mayor Gray included the budget for the new Department in his proposed FY 14 Budget to the Council (B20-0198) and established the new Department in the proposed FY 14 Budget Support Act (Subtitle K, B20-0199). The Council is scheduled to vote on May 22, 2013 on both bills.
The new Department of Behavioral Health will integrate treatment and services for residents with both mental health and substance use disorders. The new Department will continue to provide treatment and supports for individuals with mental health conditions only or substance use disorders only. Providers will be trained to assess for both illnesses in order to offer proper treatment.
The Department of Behavioral Health will be established with input and guidance from a Planning Committee led by Dr. M. Saul Levin, Interim Director of the Department of Health and Stephen T. Baron, Director of DMH who will become the head of the new Department. The Planning Committee defined its membership and functions in a Charter [PDF] and adopted Guiding Principles [PDF]. The Planning Committee implementation process will ensure the active participation of community service providers and residents who receive services from either DMH and APRA and their families. We encourage you to email your comments and suggestions regarding your areas of interest to a member of the Planning Committee listed below. The Planning Committee also will post frequently asked questions, regular reports and notice of any public meetings.
Steve Baron presented the Mayor’s proposed FY 14 budget for the new Department at the Council Committee on Health public budget hearing on April 18, 2013.
Mayor’s FY 14 Budget for the Department of Behavioral Health
Mayor’s FY 14 Budget Support Act
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. Why are you making this change?
A1. A significant number of residents have mental health and substance use disorders at the same time. Treatment and supports currently are delivered separately which requires people seeking help for both illnesses to navigate two separate agencies. Without integrated treatment, one or both disorders might not be addressed properly. The new integrated system effectively will serve individuals with co-occurring disorders whether they are seeking help for substance use disorders or mental health conditions.
Between DMH and APRA, 86 providers treat 35,000 residents for one or the other disorder with a small number serving both. We want to make sure all providers are competent to assess for both mental health and substance use disorders at the same time so we can design the proper treatment.
In addition, through the establishment of the new department, we hope to focus public awareness and policy attention on the role of behavioral health by engaging all areas of our community— elected officials, advocates, health professionals, researchers and those directly affected by mental illness/addiction and their families. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that by 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability worldwide. We know that treatment is effective and recovery is possible. We are putting a system in place that best supports healthy individuals and a strong community.
Q2. Will this change make services better?
A2. As we learn more about how to support individual recovery and resiliency, research shows that treating both illnesses jointly, rather than separately, is shown to improve client outcomes.
- Mental illnesses and addictions are both biological brain disorders with genetic and/or neurobiological factors.
- Denial and stigma are common barriers to getting treatment.
- Clients will benefit from specific expertise in prevention, assessment, treatment, and knowledge of best practices by clinicians who specialize in substance abuse and/or mental illness, even without a dual diagnosis.
According to SAMHSA, integrated treatment that addresses both mental and substance use conditions at the same time leads to lower costs and better outcomes such as:
- Reduced substance use
- Improved psychiatric symptoms and functioning
- Decreased hospitalization
- Increased housing stability
- Fewer arrests
- Improved quality of life
On the other hand, the consequences of undiagnosed, untreated, or undertreated co-occurring mental and substance use disorders are severe. Studies show that compared to individuals without co-occurring disorders, people with co-occurring disorders were more likely to be:
- Incarcerated, or
- Infected with HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases.
Effectively serving individuals with mental health and substance use disorders means early detection and integrated services that are individualized and responsive to all conditions.
Q3. What if I need only mental health support? Can I still get help?
A3. Yes. You will still get treatment and support from the new Department of Behavior Health. Treatment and services will fit the individual need.
Q4. What if I need support only for substance use disorders?
A4. You will still get treatment and support from the new Department of Behavior Health. Some providers may only offer treatment and supports for substance use disorders but they will be trained to assess for both to make sure treatment offered is comprehensive.
Planning Committee Membership
Beatriz ‘BB’ Otero
Barbara J. Bazron
|DMH||Senior Deputy Director|
|DOH||Interim Senior Deputy Director, APRA|
|DMH||Chief of Staff|
|DOH||Chief of Staff|
|DOH||Chief Operating Officer|
|DMH||Chief, Administrative Services|
|DOH||Deputy Director of Operations, APRA|
|DOH||Deputy Director, APRA|
Dr. Cameron Ritchie
|DMH||Chief Clinical Officer|
|DOH||Deputy Director for Treatment, APRA|
|DOH||Agency Fiscal Officer|
|DMH||Agency Fiscal Officer|
|DMH||Deputy Director, Office of Accountability|
|DOH||Chief of Quality Assurance, APRA|
|DMH||Deputy Director, Office of Strategic Planning|
|DOH||Chief of Policy and Planning, APRA|
|DMH||Director, Human Resources|
|DOH||Chief Technology Officer, DOH|