New Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities launches

July 1, 2009

ATLANTA – Georgia’s new state agency in charge of services for mental health, developmental disabilities, and addictive diseases officially began operations today. The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) was created as part of the reorganization of the former Department of Human Resources that became effective July 1, 2009. DBHDD will oversee employees across the state involved in policy, programs, and service delivery, including those who work at the seven state hospitals.

“Thanks to the leadership of Governor Perdue and the General Assembly, people in Georgia who have behavioral health issues, developmental disabilities, and addictive diseases now have an agency that’s solely focused on supporting their wellbeing and independence,” said Dr. Frank Shelp, Commissioner of DBHDD. “The opportunity presented by this new department brings with it both a higher profile and higher expectations. And while we know that the challenges we face in Georgia won’t disappear overnight, I’m confident that, with new thinking and new initiative, our efforts will result in better care and stronger support.”

Frank E. Shelp, M.D., M.P.H. was appointed Commissioner of DBHDD by Governor Sonny Perdue on May 4, 2009. He brings a breadth of experience from the public, private, academic, and corporate sectors of healthcare. Prior to coming to Georgia he was Vice President of Medical Affairs for First Health Services Corporation of Glen Allen, Virginia, a national quality improvement company serving state Medicaid agencies, managing pharmacy, behavioral health, and medical and surgical services with contracts in 28 states. Dr. Shelp has served as Corporate Medical Director for Behavioral Health for United HealthCare of Minnesota and has been in private practice, primarily in geriatric care.

Dr. Shelp was part of the earliest initiative between the public sector John Umstead Hospital in Butner, North Carolina and Duke University Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, establishing the state psychiatric hospital as a partner with the university in research, residency training, and clinical care.

Dr. Shelp holds a B.A. and B.S. from Eastern Mennonite College, Harrisonburg, Virginia; an M.D. from the Medical College of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia; and an M.P.H. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Public Health. His post graduate training included a residency in psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina, and a fellowship in geriatrics at DUMC Center for the Study of Aging. He is Board Certified in Psychiatry and a Fellow in the American Psychiatric Association.

In 2009, Governor Sonny Perdue put forth a plan to restructure the existing Department of Human Resources, in part to bring a greater to focus the mental health, developmental disability, and addictive disease services. During the legislative session, the General Assembly passed HB 228, which was signed into law by the Governor. On July 1, 2009, the new Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities assumed most of the responsibilities of the former Department of Human Resources Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Addictive Diseases.

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