Southeast Georgia to benefit from $4.3 million mental health grant

June 29, 2010

Opening Doors to Recovery Project

Members of DBHDD, NAMI Georgia, Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, GA Department of Corrections and Emory University take photo with Governor Sonny Perdue to celebrate the $4.3 million grant awarded to southeast Georgia. (From Left to Right) Mark Baggett, Executive Director of Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless; Michael Compton, Fellowship Director in Community Psychiatry / Public Health at Emory University; Patricia Doykos, Director of the Bristol- Myers Squibb Foundation; Eric Spencer, Executive Director NAMI Georgia (National Alliance on Mental Illness); Diane Reeder, President, NAMI Savannah; Governor Sonny Perdue; Nora Lott Haynes; NAMI Georgia Public Policy Director; Dr. Frank E. Shelp, DBHDD Commissioner; Brian Owens, Commissioner Georgia Department of Corrections; June DiPolito, Director of Pineland Area MH, DD & AD Community Service Board

ATLANTA, GA - One hundred adults in southeast Georgia who are living with serious mental illness will benefit from a $4.3 million grant that will promote recovery and reduce their chances of relapsing after treatment. Over a two-year period, the Opening Doors to Recovery Project (ODR) will focus on people who have experienced a mental health crisis and returned to jail, prison, state hospitals or homelessness more than once a year. The funding is a result of a partnership between the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Georgia, and the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Emory University will be conducting the research to determine ODR’s effectiveness on reducing patients’ return rates.

“We are excited about the partners that have come together to make the Opening Doors to Recovery project possible,” said DBHDD Commissioner Frank E. Shelp. “This project is aligned with our mission to create a sustainable, self-sufficient and resilient life in the community and we expect it to give participants another chance to live a fulfilling life.”

Participants meeting the study’s criteria will be identified from those discharged from Georgia Regional Hospital Savannah. The ODR project will match the participants with case managers who will help participants reach their goal of recovery.

“The Opening Doors to Recovery project is a powerful example of how public-private partnerships can drive much-needed innovations in the nature and quality of care and support available to patients who are managing their illness in their homes and communities,” said Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation Director, Patricia M. Doykos. “We look forward to seeing how the project’s interventions and tools help participants avoid crisis and progress toward their recovery goals.

Opening Doors to Recovery in Southeast Georgia is a two-year demonstration project with a highly innovative approach to delivering tailored, recovery-oriented case management services to people with serious and persistent mental illnesses who have an established history of recurrent homelessness, incarcerations, and/or hospitalizations.

ODR will develop, implement and evaluate both a case management service and a new technology system for navigating a consumer’s community-based care and for tracking utilization of non-medical supports that are critical to recovery but are not typically captured in medical records. Emory University will test the initial effectiveness and implementation of the models. If the interventions prove effective, the goal is to sustain them through funding making them available to many other Georgians.

"Stakeholders in Region 5, the 34 counties in the footprint of Savannah Regional Hospital, have worked tirelessly and passionately to make Opening Doors to Recovery a reality,” said Nora Lott Haynes, NAMI GA Public Policy Director. “This community collaborative will reduce stigma, save lives, and change the way communities encourage those with mental illness who live there.”

For more information about the Open Doors to Recovery Project, please visit or

About Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation:
The mission of the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation is to help reduce health disparities by strengthening community-based health care worker capacity, integrating medical care and community-based supportive services, and mobilizing communities in the fight against disease. In the United States, grants and partnerships focus on serious mental illness, Alzheimer’s disease and type 2 diabetes. For more information about Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, please visit

About NAMI Georgia:
From its inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.

For three decades, NAMI has established itself as the most formidable grassroots mental health advocacy organization in the country. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI's mission by grassroots advocates have produced profound changes. NAMI's greatest strength is the dedication of our grassroots leaders and members. We are the families, friends and individuals that serve to strengthen communities across the country.

The purpose of NAMI Georgia, Inc. is to relieve the suffering and improve the quality of life for Georgians living with mental illness and their families. This is accomplished by: Developing, nurturing and coordinating a statewide network of family support groups to strengthen and educate those living among us with a mental illness; Promoting public policies, which expand services and improve treatment for ill persons living with a mental illness, and supporting research leading to the eradication of mental illness; Educating the people of Georgia about mental illness in order to improve resources, services and knowledge by reducing misinformation and stigma.

Contact Information: 
Kristie Swink (