Behavioral Health Symposium 2016

Behavioral Health Symposium 2016

“The Behavioral Health Division Leadership Team was proud to be able to offer an amazing opportunity for professional development and networking for our provider network. We look forward to this event each year as we believe that by providing this type of learning opportunity for our network, it in turn improves the quality of services individuals receive.” – Monica Johnson, director of DBHDD Division of Behavioral Health, 2nd from left above with keynote speaker Patrick Kennedy and some members of her team.


DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry

On October 6 – 7, 2016, then-DBHDD Commissioner Frank Berry welcomed the more than 500 professionals to the Behavioral Health Symposium 2016 at Lake Lanier, Georgia.

Hosted by DBHDD’s Division of Behavioral Health, the annual conference is designed to promote excellence among the many organizations that provide behavioral health services for DBHDD.



This year’s event offered over 50 topics in four tracks: clinical, leadership, recovery, and prevention. Patrick Kennedy, Ted Kennedy’s youngest son and a vocal advocate for the millions of Americans affected by behavioral health conditions, delivered the opening address, entitled, Making Mental Health Essential Health.

Six years sober, Kennedy published, “A Common Struggle,” a memoir that reveals his family’s struggle with mental illness and addiction. Breaking the family code of silence was a way to challenge the shame and stigma associated with these issues, says Kennedy. “There is nothing to be ashamed of. Behavioral health [conditions are] a symptom of brain chemistry. It’s chemistry, not character. It’s medical, not moral.”

The roster of presenters and trainers, including many nationally recognized experts, informed professionals about best practices and the latest research in the fields of addiction and mental health. Keynote speaker Dr. Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute and author of “Reefer Sanity,” advocates “clear thinking about drug policy based on science, public health, and public safety, instead of fear and rhetoric.”

Materials from workshop sessions are available on DBHDD’s website.