Blog: Commissioner Fitzgerald

Our Optimistic Future

October 8, 2019

It appears that cooler temperatures have finally arrived. Fall is at our doorstep, and I think we all welcome the change. I am eager to share my optimism about the future, but first I want to offer a reflection of two important events that DBHDD has hosted in recent weeks. Most recently, the Behavioral Health division hosted the Annual Behavioral Health Symposium, welcoming more than 500 participants from around the state to Callaway Gardens. This gathering is a robust opportunity to learn, grow and connect with a wide range of educational opportunities in every area of service delivery across the life span.

World Suicide Prevention Day

September 10, 2019

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and today is World Suicide Prevention Day. In the last two decades, the rate of suicide has increased by 16 percent in Georgia and 30 percent across the nation.  Recently, high-profile suicides covered the news in our state, but the tragedy of suicide occurs every day in Georgia.  One death by suicide is too many, but I want to offer a message of hope.  Suicide is preventable, and everyone has a role to play in preventing it. 

The Journey is Ongoing

July 9, 2019

When people think about our state’s safety net for people with psychiatric disorders, they may think about Georgia’s five state hospitals. Our hospitals are an essential element of the safety net continuum. They provide a vital resource for individuals with serious behavioral health issues. DBHDD’s hospital system has served as the cornerstone of Georgia’s mental health landscape for nearly 200 years, beginning with the opening of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville in 1842. Our second hospital, Gracewood, (now a part of East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta) was built in 1921. Like most states, Georgia continued to expand its hospital portfolio throughout most of the 20th century.

This Is Our Story

March 19, 2019

Greetings!  It seems that Spring is finally here and we can look forward to the celebration of Mental Health Month throughout May.  Today, I want to celebrate mental health and more through an important story.  It is the story of a decade of transformation at DBHDD.  Since becoming a standalone agency in 2009, we have gone through a remarkable transformation, and it is time for us to honor our achievements.

This is our story.

Spring is Here!

April 9, 2018

Spring Greetings!

The 2018 Legislative Session adjourned at the end of March, and I am pleased to report that it was a successful Session for DBHDD.  We are very grateful to Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly for their generous support of our mission through the FY 2019 budget.  I invite you to read DBHDD’s Gold Dome Report, which highlights key funding and legislation affecting our department and the people we serve.

A Department on the Move!

March 6, 2018

Greetings!  Over the next few months, I will be highlighting some of the exciting transformation efforts underway throughout DBHDD.  We are a department on the move!

The Division of Developmental Disabilities has been at the center of our efforts to transform.  We have multiple service improvements underway.  One element of our system has emerged as an area of great importance: the Planning List for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).  You may already know that many states have planning lists for people with I/DD.  This is a reflection of growing national prevalence, such that demand exceeds current resource allocations.  In Georgia, our list has existed for many years and holds the names of thousands of individuals.  People have been added to the list whether their need is current or urgent.  As a result, it has been difficult to assess the true need in Georgia.

Kicking off 2018!

February 6, 2018

2018 is off and running.  Between budget and legislative activities, and our ongoing system-wide transformation, we continue to drive toward the end of the ADA Extension Agreement, scheduled for June 30, 2018.  As we focus on these significant strategic priorities, I wanted to take a pause and revisit our “WHY?”.  Why do we embrace our challenging mission to serve some of Georgia’s most vulnerable citizens?

Independence in its Deepest Meaning

July 3, 2017

Happy Summer to all! The transition to a new season on the calendar offers an opportunity to reflect upon the previous months and also peek forward into the weeks ahead.

Summer represents different things to each of us. For some it is the relief from school schedules, for others, the promise of a planned vacation, and still others, the joy of ballgames or concerns about sweltering heat. One element of summer that brings us all together is the celebration of July Fourth. There is something about the waving of the Red, White and Blue of our nation’s flag that brings us together and compels us to think about the gifts of freedom and independence. Hot dogs in hand, with family and friends we honor both the idea of independence, and also the reality of the liberties that we enjoy. It is a great way to unify in celebration.