Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam announced mental health non-profit executive, Doug Varney, as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health. Commissioner Varney will assume his post in the Cordell Hull Building on Tuesday, January 18, 2011. The cabinet-level agency was formerly known as the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, and as of January 14, 2011 became the Tennessee Department of Mental Health.
Commissioner Varney spent his professional career with Tennessee-based Frontier Health, a community mental health center serving families and individuals affected by behavioral health, substance abuse, and intellectual deficit issues. He worked his way up from psychological examiner, counselor, and therapist to President and CEO.
The department's mission is to plan for, and promote the availability of, a comprehensive array of quality prevention, early intervention, treatment, habilitation, and rehabilitation services and supports based on the needs and choices of individuals and families served.
"Doug Varney has spent his life dedicated to helping those affected by these issues, and I'm pleased he will be part of our team," Haslam said. "He has spent his career at the community level, and having that perspective makes him uniquely qualified to this position."
Commissioner Varney is active in the Northeast Tennessee region. He was a board member and past president of the Tennessee Association of Community Mental Health Organizations. He is a member of the faculty at the Healthy Appalachia Institute; adjunct faculty member at East Tennessee State University; past chairman and board member of Carespark, a regional health information exchange; and a member of the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. He has a Master's in Psychology from East Tennessee State and was formerly licensed as a psychological examiner, marriage and family counselor, and professional counselor.
"I'm a mission-oriented person, and I'm excited to use my experience and years spent in this field to help all Tennesseans facing these challenges," Varney said. "I'm honored to be selected by Governor-elect Haslam, and I'm looking forward to working with the great staff at the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities department."