Tennessee Behavioral Health Advocates to Converge on Capitol Hill

Monday, February 22, 2016 | 12:05pm

NASHVILLE – On Tuesday, March 15, hundreds of Tennesseans will converge in Nashville to attend Behavioral Health Day on Capitol Hill – Rebuilding For Recovery. Their collective mission is to engage with lawmakers and advocate for greater access to state-funded services and programs which benefit citizens struggling with a mental health diagnosis and/or a substance use disorder.

Behavioral Health Day on Capitol Hill

War Memorial Auditorium, Nashville

Tuesday, March 15, 8:30 AM – 1:00 PM

A formal program in the morning will include remarks by high ranking legislators, dignitaries and other invited guests, including E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

“It is always an honor to join with our state leaders who support the efforts of so many who advocate not only for mental health and substance abuse services in Tennessee but for greater awareness,” said Commissioner Varney. “There is a tremendous need in our state to offer treatment and support to individuals struggling with a mental health condition and/or substance use. The sooner a person is diagnosed, the more likely they are to enjoy life to the fullest.”

More than 30 organizations and 400 advocates plan to participate in the annual day of education, advocacy, and legislative visits.

Tennessee Behavioral Health Facts 2012 - 2014

An estimated 1 million Tennesseans over the age of 18 experienced some type of mental illness from 2012 to 2013.  Of that number, approximately 250,000 adults were diagnosed with a serious mental illness and met the criteria to receive publicly-funded behavioral health services. In 2014, Tennessee’s mental health hospitals evaluated and admitted more than 9,000 individuals with a behavioral health diagnosis.

Overall it’s estimated that 1 in 5 Tennesseans have a mental illness, 1 in 12 have a substance use disorder, and nearly 1,000 are lost each year to suicide.

“These numbers confirm the reality for many of our loved ones, friends, and neighbors who are struggling with a serious behavioral health condition and substance use disorder,” said Commissioner Varney. “I congratulate those Tennesseans who strive to overcome and seek treatment, and encourage those willing to meet face-to-face with our elected leaders. People challenged with behavioral health conditions have a voice and deserve to be heard.”

Behavioral Health Day on Capitol Hill is sponsored and organized by the Tennessee Coalition of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

11th annual Art for Awareness  *  Tennessee Tower, Tennessee Rooms, Nashville  *  Tuesday, March 15, 1:00 PM – 3:00 PM

Now in its 11th year, Art for Awareness, in partnership with the Healing Arts Project, Inc., immediately follows Behavioral Health Day on the Hill, as an opportunity for artists who have experienced mental illness and/or substance use disorder in Tennessee to express themselves in a visual way through art.

Individuals from all over the state will display original work, which frequently reflects their experience of coping with a mental health condition and/or substance use disorder. Each piece also shares a personal message to convey what the work represents. For many people in recovery, art is a powerful expression of their feelings or situation.

“Having a creative outlet, whether it’s producing works of art, taking up a musical instrument, writing poetry or trying new recipes with friends, helps to reduce stress and build self-worth,” said Commissioner Varney. “Making it a part of a daily routine can go a long way to helping a person manage their wellbeing and deal with the stress of everyday life. In fact, according to art therapists, recent studies have pointed to the calming effect of adult coloring books as a therapy to help people focus on their tasks and set aside distractions.”

Art for Awareness artwork will be on display throughout the months of April and May at Legislative Plaza.

Click Here to learn more about Art for Awareness and to download a registration form, event schedule, and framing instructions. The registration deadline is Friday, February 26.

Our Mission: Provide, plan for, and promote a comprehensive array of quality prevention, early intervention, treatment, habilitation, rehabilitation and recovery support services for Tennesseans with mental illness and substance abuse issues.  Our Vision: To be one of the nation's most innovative and proactive state behavioral health authorities for Tennesseans dealing with mental health and substance abuse problems. For more information, visit www.tn.gov/behavioral-health.

Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services