Skip to Content

Division of Clinical Leadership

Best Practice Guidelines

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, in cooperation with the Advisory Panel on Best Practice Guidelines, has developed guidelines for use by psychiatrists, primary care physicians, psychologists, health service providers, nurses, nurse clinicians, physician extenders, social workers and other health care professionals to:

  • Promote high quality of care for adults and children served by Tennessee’s public health system
  • Aid in identification, evaluation, and provision of effective treatment for persons with severe mental illness and severe emotional disorders
  • To promote continuity of care through establishment of uniform treatment options and the best use of multidisciplinary treatment resources

Behavioral Health Guidelines for Children and Adolescents from Birth to 17 Years of Age

This 500-page document will provide relevant information and education for professionals who deliver behavioral health services to children and adolescents who range in age from birth to 17. It is a key educational tool that will help inform and educate child-serving professionals in the state, promoting high-quality behavioral health care aligned with evidence-based practices. For more information, please click here. To see the previous iteration of this document, which was created in 2007 and revised in 2008, please click here.

Behavioral Health Services for Adults
Best Practice Guidelines

December 2010


This document contains information, statistics, and resources on selected behavioral health disorders as they apply to adults, specifically persons over 18 years of age. Among the disorders covered by these guidelines are anxiety disorders; dual diagnosis (mental health and intellectual disabilities); eating disorders; mood disorders; psychotic disorders; substance abuse disorders; co-occurring disorders (mental health and substance use); and traumatic brain injuries. Included are disorders that frequently show up in adult populations as well as those that may be more discriminating in the type of individual in which they manifest. Screening instruments and symptom and treatment issues are provided in the guidelines. In addition, there are discussions on comorbidities relative to other behavioral health disorders, physical health issues, and/or conditions linked to older adult populations. Special issues relevant to adult populations are also emphasized, including informed consent, recovery and resiliency, case management, precautions involving psychotropic medications, cultural competence, and mental health professional shortage areas.

Every effort has been made to include evidence-based treatment practices as part of the best practices, to the extent possible. Service maps are contained within the guidelines, including a map of the current mental health professional shortage areas in the state. The document includes a total of 212 pages. It is in PDF format and can be accessed by clicking the link for the document name.

Clinical Leadership Links