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Welcome to the DBHDD’s Office of Behavioral Health Prevention & Federal Grants Holiday Cookbook. This has been a very difficult year for most of us and our office wanted to share the holiday spirit from our family and friends across the state with you. We wanted to help you get in the holiday spirit and shed some of those “bah humbug” feelings you may have.
I learned this week that the word of the year for 2020 is “pandemic”—not exactly breaking news. I can certainly acknowledge the power that this pandemic has had over our lives in 2020. And yet I want to offer my own word of the year for 2020, and that word is “hope.” For me, our individual and collective sense of hope has also been a driving force in 2020. As we engage in a very different holiday season than our traditional one, I aim to celebrate this gift of hope.
November brings the opportunity to reflect on both service and gratitude, as we celebrate both Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving. While so many elements of life are viewed differently in 2020, there are a few constants to be honored, including these very special holidays. Each one is important to Americans, and I have always admired the way these two holidays illuminate the human experience and remind us of the ways in which we bring out the best in each other.
Hello friends, colleagues and supporters. We seem to have turned the page to fall with the emergence of pumpkins, football and changing leaves. These are reminders that despite the uncertainty that has characterized 2020, elements of our existence roll forward, albeit with new practices and precautions, and new opportunities as well. Conversations with friends, partners and stakeholders that rely on DBHDD and our provider network have challenged me to acknowledge the exhaustion and unpredictability we have experienced, and at the same time embrace the joy of small pleasures and reinvigorate our safety net mission.
As we approach the six-month mark since the “Shelter in Place” order, you may be, like me, experiencing a diverse range of emotions on any given day, or any given hour. In March, many of us presumed we would be “over” this pandemic by now. With eyes wide open, we have come to recognize that “over” and “past” are probably not the right words to capture our understanding of COVID-19. Multiple elements of daily life for our staff, providers and the people we serve have been fundamentally altered and we have been challenged to adapt almost everything we do.
The question I hear most often right now is “What next?” I hear it from our neighbors wondering what the start of school will look like. I hear it from families whose children engage in sports activities. I hear it on the lips of local business owners, including my favorite coffee shop, struggling to remain afloat with to-go orders and reduced seating. Closer to home I hear it from my colleagues in the 2 Peachtree location wondering about the viability of our office space and conference rooms. I hear it from providers in our service delivery network, eager to serve as the safety net, but stretched to meet guidelines and demands. I know our hospitals are wondering “what next” as well. Will there be a time when the uncertainty stimulated by COVID19 does not dominate our daily planning and decision-making?
It’s hard to put words to the array of feelings and experiences we have endured in 2020. Each week seems to add new twists and turns to an already complicated storyline. Looking backward, I am able to reflect with pride on the DBHDD hospital system and provider network. Our collective ability to lean into uncertainty and remain focused on our mission to serve has led to remarkable progress and continuity of care for many vulnerable Georgians. But we have also experienced grief, gaps in service, and longing for the way things used to be. Like me, you may recognize some simple activities and pleasures that we have taken for granted. I have also experienced unexpected joy in stories of acts of compassion, empathy, and courage. It is as if the full human experience has been squeezed into the course of a few months.
It seems challenging to make sense of the world around us right now. We are still trying to understand COVID-19 while protecting ourselves and our families and continuing to serve vulnerable individuals throughout our hospital and community-based safety net network. At the same time, the fiscal damage wreaked by the pandemic is felt in every corner of the economy, and state agencies are facing difficult budget reductions. Amidst this landscape, we are now experiencing unrest and violence across our nation and close to home in Georgia as well, and we know that minority communities have been disproportionately impacted. These surely are trying times.
Whether you are someone who receives DBHDD services, a family member, a provider, an advocate, a DBHDD team member, an elected official, or just getting to know us, I want to thank you for your support of our work and the people we serve. I also want to thank you for taking the time to read this edition of our newsletter, which offers updates as well as messages of optimism and hope.
2020 SOCA CALL FOR WORKSHOP PROPOSALS:
DBHDD Division of Behavioral Health and Georgia Interagency Directors Team13th Annual System of Care Academy Conference
2020 Vision: Starting Strong for the Next Decade
June 25-26, 2020
Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort