Mayor Vincent C. Gray Announces Creation of New Department of Behavioral Health

Date: 2013-01-14
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(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the formation of a new Department of Behavioral Health in the District government.




(Media-Newswire.com) - (WASHINGTON, DC) -- Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced the formation of a new Department of Behavioral Health in the District government. The new agency is the result of a merger between the Department of Health’s (DOH) Addiction, Prevention and Recovery Administration and the Department of Mental Health. The agency will integrate treatment and services for residents with disorders related to mental health or substance use.

“More than 35,000 District residents are receiving treatment for disorders involving mental health or substance abuse,” Mayor Gray said. “With the creation of a new Department of Behavioral Health, we are taking significant steps to integrate services, promote better health for District residents, prevent behavioral problems and build stronger communities.”

People with mental-health conditions often have a substance-use condition at the same time. Without integrated treatment, one or both disorders may not be addressed properly. The overall vision of an integrated system is to effectively serve individuals with co-occurring disorders no matter whether they initially seek help for mental health or substance use.

Treating both substance use and mental illnesses jointly, rather than separately, is shown to improve client outcomes, including:

· Reduced substance use;

· Improved psychiatric symptoms and functioning;

· Decreased hospitalization;

· Increased housing stability;

· Fewer arrests; and

· Improved quality of life.

“Making sure that service providers have the ability to treat both substance abuse and mental-health disorders at the same time strengthens our ability to give individualized care, which offers the best chance for recovery,” said Steve Baron, Director of the Department of Mental Health.

“We know that treatment is effective and people recover, particularly if recovery services are included in the continuum of care,” added Dr. Saul Levin, Interim Director of the Department of Health. “Additionally, having the behavioral-health-treatment provider assess, treat and ensure the patient/client stays in treatment and links to other primary-care providers will ensure healthier outcomes for that patient/client.”

In setting up the new agency, Baron and Dr. Levin will lead an implementation process to integrate both services and systems that will include community-based service providers and people with co-occurring disorders and their families.