2022 in Review: Growth, Subsidies and a Bright Future

2022 in Review: Growth, Subsidies and a Bright Future

This guest post is by Melanie Dallas, LPC, CEO of Highland Rivers Behavioral Health

It would be an understatement to say that 2022 has been a year of unprecedented change and growth for Highland Rivers Behavioral Health (not the least of which has been adding the word “behavioral” to our name, both to clarify and increase awareness of the type of health care we provide). Along with the name change, we completed our agency rebrand with a new logo and tagline, new signage throughout our facilities, and a new agency website with a new URL, www.highlandrivers.org .

The impetus – and opportunity – for this change was the consolidation of two other agencies in Highland Rivers. On January 1, Haralson County Behavioral Health Services joined our agency, and on July 1, we also welcomed the Cobb County Community Services Board to the Highland Rivers family.

The addition of these agencies makes Highland Rivers Behavioral Health one of Georgia’s largest community service boards – with a 13-county service area that includes nearly 18% of Georgia’s population, a workforce of over 900 professionals and a budget of approximately $75 million.

While the 20,000 people we serve each year may seem like a daunting number, as we transition to a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) operating model – another change we began planning for this year – we expect the number of people we serve to increase dramatically.

In addition to the expansion of our service locations – the consolidations added two-day program centers for people with developmental disabilities, another crisis unit, a second residential addiction treatment program for women, as well residential substance abuse program for teens – grant funding helps us expand our services further.

We are in the second year of a partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine to support opioid education and prevention in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties, while we also received a $500,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to support labor market entry and reintegration. entrance for people in recovery in Haralson, Murray, Polk and Whitfield counties.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provided a grant to support the development of a co-response program in Cherokee County, in partnership with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office. Co-response pairs a licensed mental health clinician with a uniformed law enforcement officer to respond to individuals in the community in behavioral health crisis. We’ve had a co-response program in Cobb County since 2019, and this year also began serving as a clinical partner for such a program in Catoosa County (even though it’s not one of the counties in our service area).

Veterans also continued to be a priority for Highland Rivers in 2022. In May, the Highland Rivers Foundation hosted Reveille for Hope, a fundraising breakfast for the Green Zone Veterans Community Center that we are planning for Cherokee County. We also hosted our fourth annual Veterans Recovery Celebration – and we are grateful to be able to hold it in person this year after two years of hosting virtually.

Finally, in September, Highland Rivers received a $750,000 Veterans Administration grant to improve suicide prevention among veterans and their families in Cherokee and Pickens counties. Through this grant, we are partnering with the Cherokee County Homeless Veterans Program, the Marietta Veterinary Center, and the Center for the Advancement of Military and Emergency Services Research at the University of State of Kennesaw to create a cohesive and timely response to veterans in crisis.

Of course, this all barely scratches the surface of everything that’s happened – and everything we’ve achieved – in 2022. None of this could have happened without the exceptional team of employees at Highland Rivers, and the wonderful local partners and leaders we have in every county we serve. On behalf of Highland Rivers Behavioral Health, I wish you happy holidays and a happy and healthy new year.

Melanie Dallas is a licensed professional counselor and CEO of Highland Rivers Behavioral Health, which provides treatment and recovery services to people with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in a 13 counties in northwest Georgia which includes Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk, and Whitfield.

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