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Melanie Dallas: July brings good news for Georgia’s mental health system | Lifestyles

Although July is often thought to be a gradual summer season month, there are numerous new and necessary happenings in Georgia this July. Actually, July 1 is the start of the state of Georgia’s fiscal 12 months — when the funds handed by the General Assembly throughout its legislative session goes into impact — together with most of the new legal guidelines it enacted.

One such regulation is HB 1013, often known as the Mental Health Parity Act, which went into impact July 1. This necessary and long-needed piece of laws requires insurers to supply the identical protection for behavioral health circumstances (for instance, mental health and substance use therapy) as they do for bodily health circumstances. While parity has been federal regulation for a few years, there was little lively enforcement on the state stage, one thing which this regulation additionally addresses.

One of an important advantages of HB 1013 can be rising entry to behavioral health companies in Georgia by making certain that persons are not minimize off from vital therapy companies attributable to arbitrary coverage limits — simply as they’d not be minimize off from cardiac care or bodily remedy. Such parity additionally helps reinforce what we within the behavioral health discipline have been saying all alongside — that mental sickness and substance use problems are professional medical issues from which people can get better with ample therapy and assist.

Closer to house in Northwest Georgia, July 1 additionally marks the completion of the consolidation of the previous Cobb County Community Services Board into Highland Rivers Health. With steerage from the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, this course of took roughly two years. After finishing an earlier consolidation of Haralson Behavioral Health Services into Highland Rivers on Jan. 1, the newly-named Highland Rivers Behavioral Health is without doubt one of the largest neighborhood service boards in Georgia.

These consolidations have been an incredible alternative for our group and our communities, and we’ve built-in wonderful employees throughout all three companies which have coalesced fantastically into one collective mission for our communities in northwest Georgia. With these consolidations, we’ve additionally expanded our governing board to 18 members, and are putting in new signage, with our new title and brand, in any respect company amenities. With each consolidations full, we’re additionally launching a brand new web site at This new web site can be a great tool for anybody within the 13 counties we serve to be taught in regards to the companies we provide and how you can entry them — with an interactive location map, on-line referral types and after-hours emergency contact info. Despite the great work concerned in these consolidations, our company is stronger than ever and able to enhance the variety of folks we’re in a position to serve in all of our communities.

Finally, there’s another necessary new improvement happening this July in Georgia (and truly, throughout the U.S.), and that’s the roll-out of the 9-8-8 suicide and disaster line. Like calling 911 for a medical emergency, folks will now be capable of name 9-8-8 for a mental health emergency. In Georgia, these calls can be routed to the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL), which has already served Georgia for a few years. GCAL’s telephone quantity — (800) 715-42250 — and MyGCAL app will all stay lively even after 9-8-8 goes stay and Georgians will nonetheless be capable of attain GCAL by telephone or textual content.

What every of those developments — mental health parity, the consolidation of our companies and the rollout of 9-8-8 — have in frequent is that all of them enhance entry to behavioral healthcare in Georgia, regionally and statewide. and entry to care is the vital ingredient in strengthening Georgia’s mental health system and bettering high quality of life for people and households in communities throughout our state.

Melanie Dallas is a licensed skilled counselor and CEO of Highland Rivers Behavioral Health, which gives therapy and restoration companies for folks with mental sickness, substance use problems, and mental and developmental disabilities in a 13-county area of Northwest Georgia that features Murray and Whitfield counties.

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