New Georgia Mental Health Law

On May 16, Governor Roy Barnes signed into law House Bill 498, which is mental health legislation that was passed during the recently completed 2002 session of the Georgia General Assembly. The new law changes the name of the Division of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse to the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. It increases the authority, functions and responsibilities of DBHDD and the Division in the state's publicly funded mental health, developmental disability and addictive disease service system. It creates "Regional Offices" under the direct supervision of the Division. Each Regional Office will be headed by a "Regional Coordinator" who will have overall responsibility for coordination and oversight of hospital and community mental health/developmental disability/addictive disease services in the region. Employees of the Regional Offices will be employees of the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. The new law also provides for changes in the appointment, powers and duties of regional planning boards and community service boards (CSBs). Parts of the new law will become effective on July 1, 2002, other parts will become effective on January 1, 2003, and the remaining parts will become effective when funds are appropriated and become available. Some changes of interest to CSH that are likely to take place when the new law is implemented:

  • The name of the Division of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse will become the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases.
  • The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSH will be supervised by a Regional Coordinator who will report directly to the Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases.
  • Increased opportunities for CSH to operate and manage community programs may become available - this has already begun with CSH's recently developed "Central Care" program which will provide residential living options in the community for consumers with mental retardation/developmental disabilities.

Click here for the full text of House Bill 498.