Baton Rouge – Secretary Alan Levine of the Louisiana Department of Health today announced appointments to the Office of Behavioral Health Implementation Advisory Committee. Created by Act 384 following this year’s regular legislative session, the Office of Behavioral Health will consolidate the existing Office for Addictive Disorders and Office of Mental Health. The committee also held their first meeting today in Baton Rouge.

The Office of Behavioral Health will join the administrative and planning functions of the two current offices, while maintaining the ability to serve people with a distinct mental illness or substance abuse problem. The new office will better oversee the administration of services throughout the state, including the human service districts and authorities which currently operate in five separate regions of the state.

Recommendations from the 12-member advisory committee will include how the two offices will combine missions, performance measures and expected outcomes, and strategies to maximize funding, coordinate with local districts, and workforce development.

Secretary Levine appointed Rubye Noble, J.D. to lead the commission. Rubye is the Assistant Parish Attorney and Legislative Liaison for Jefferson Parish, and is a member of the Louisiana Mental Health Planning Council. She also serves as Executive Director of the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and is a former member of the Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority and Office of Mental Health Region II Advisory Council. Rubye was instrumental in the development of the Jefferson Parish Human Services Authority, which 20 years ago became the first such authority to be established in Louisiana.

"This is a great step forward in our goal to improve health outcomes while containing cost," said Levine. "By streamlining administrative services and focusing on distinct best practices for patients with mental illness, addictive disorders, and co-existing disorders, we can help ensure the best possible treatment for them to carry on with their lives. We have appointed highly qualified and experienced members to the committee under Rubye’s direction, and I look forward to seeing their recommendations as how to best launch the Office of Behavioral Health."

The group will meet every other week through January 31, 2010, to develop an implementation plan to present to Secretary Levine. The Office of Behavioral Health is scheduled to be implemented in July 2010, pending approval of the advisory committee’s plan by the Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Welfare. The OBH advisory committee will disband after LDH delivers a final status report on the merger in 2011.

According to statute, the committee is comprised of the secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, or his designee, the assistant secretary of the Office for Addictive Disorders, the assistant secretary of the Office of Mental Health, four appointments made by the LDH secretary, two appointments each by the speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives and president of the Louisiana Senate, and a selection made by the Human Services Interagency Council.

The secretary’s appointments are based on one representative nominated by addictive disorder professional associations, one representative nominated by the mental health professional community, one consumer of addictive disorder services as nominated by the Louisiana Commission on Addictive Disorders, and one consumer of mental health services as nominated by the Louisiana Mental Health Planning Council.

Committee members include:

  • Michael Duffy, Assistant Secretary for DHH’s Office for Addictive Disorders in Baton Rouge, appointed by statute.
  • Jennifer Kopke, Assistant Secretary for DHH’s Office of Mental Health in Baton Rouge, appointed by statute.
  • Glenn Ally, Ph.D., M.P., ABMP, Medical Psychologist at Joseph Henry Tyler Mental Health Center in Lafayette, a member of the Office of Mental Health, Region IV, Regional Advisory Committee, and a past member of the Louisiana Health Care Commission, nominated by the mental health stakeholder community and appointed by the Secretary.
  • Ed Carlson, Chief Executive Officer of Odyssey House Louisiana, Inc. in New Orleans and President of the Coalition of Louisiana Addiction Service and Prevention Providers, nominated by addictive disorder professional associations and appointed by the Secretary.
  • Kathy Hayward of Covington, Chairwoman of the Louisiana Commission on Addictive Disorders, nominated by the Louisiana Commission on Addictive Disorders and appointed by the Secretary.
  • Denver Nobles, Jr. of Scott, member of the State Mental Health Review Commission and a former member of the State Independent Living Council and Louisiana Protection and Advocacy Board, nominated by the Louisiana Mental Health Planning Council and appointed by the Secretary.
  • Roy Baas, Treatment Supervisor for the 4th Judicial District Adult Drug Court in Monroe, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Michelle Gaiennie is the Executive Director of Grace House in New Orleans, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • Howard Osofsky, M.D., PH.D., Chairman of the LSU School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry in New Orleans, appointed by the President of the Senate.
  • Lisa Schuster, LAC, AADC,  BCCGC, SAP, CCDP-D, Chief Operating Officer at Hidalgo Health Associates in Baton Rouge and President of the Louisiana Association of Substance Abuse Counselors and Trainers, Inc., appointed by the President of the Senate.
  • Jan Kasofsky, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Capitol Area Human Service District in Baton Rouge, appointed by the Human Services Interagency Council.

The new Office of Behavioral Health will increase access to the most complete and appropriate care for the significant number of people with both mental illness and an addictive disorder, referred to as co-occurring disorder, as well as those who suffer from mental illness or an addictive disorder separately.

One of every eight teenagers with a mental illness has a co-occurring addictive disorder, with less than 60 percent diagnosed and treated appropriately. It is also estimated that 50 to 75 percent of people with a mental illness or an addictive disorder have a co-occurring disorder.

The Louisiana Department of Health strives to protect and promote health statewide and to ensure access to medical, preventive and rehabilitative services for all state citizens. To learn more about LDH, visithttp://www.dhh.louisiana.gov.  

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