Georgia's 24-hour Mental Health Crisis Line among top 50 government innovations

April 4, 2009

ATLANTA (GA) – Harvard University has named Georgia’s Crisis and Access Line (GCAL), a 24-hour help line providing mental health crisis intervention and support, one of the top 50 government innovations in the U.S.

The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases (MHDDAD), which developed GCAL and debuted the service in July 2006, is among 50 finalists for the coveted Innovations in American Government Award given by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

GCAL made the pick out of 600 applicants. Georgia will now compete with other finalists to be among six government entities to receive an award. The competition includes other states, federal agencies, municipalities, school districts, a tribal government and a regional authority.

“GCAL has been a powerful resource to Georgians with mental illness and their families,” said B.J. Walker, commissioner of DHR. “We are thrilled to see the program recognized on a national scale.”

GCAL provides callers with behavioral health crisis intervention and access to behavioral health services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. GCAL has been praised for being a cost-effective way of removing barriers to access for mental health and substance abuse services. Once a caller contacts the service, information specialists identify treatment options and contact mental health providers directly.

“GCAL allows mental health consumers to make more informed choices about treatment options and other important issues,” said Gwendolyn B. Skinner, director of MHDDAD. “It truly is an innovation for our mental health system, and we are honored to be considered among the 50 government innovators in America.”

To be considered for an Innovations in American Government Award, government programs must submit to rigorous review by policy experts and practitioners from around the U.S. Award winners are considered models of good government whose case studies are incorporated into government school curricula worldwide.

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