Department Offices

The Office of the Commissioner, made up of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners and assistance from executive administrative staff, oversees and leads the Department in its mission. The office is responsible for system planning; setting policy and quality standards; system monitoring and evaluation; disseminating public information; and advocating for people of all ages who have mental health issues, serious emotional disturbances, and/or substance abuse disorders. Annually the office assesses the public needs for mental health and substance abuse services and supports. This function is carried out in consultation and collaboration with current or former service recipients; their families, guardians, or conservators; advocates; provider agencies; and other affected people and organizations.

The Division of Administrative and Regulatory Services (DARS) oversees the Department’s licensing, contract monitoring, general services, and procurement responsibilities.  DARS coordinates major maintenance, capital outlay projects, and information technology and provides consultation and administrative oversight for the Regional Mental Health Institutes. The Office of Licensure, a part of DARS, is charged with licensing all Tennessee agencies providing mental health, substance abuse, and personal support services.  The Office of Licensure  also investigates complaints of abuse, neglect or fraud against licensed organizations.

The Division of Mental Health Services is responsible for planning and promoting a comprehensive array of services and supports for individuals of all ages, living with mental illness, co-occurring disorders, and/or serious emotional disturbances. This is accomplished through the creation, expansion, and oversight of community-based programs and community support services. Initiatives include: affordable housing programs; homelessness prevention services; 24-hour crisis services; wellness and recovery services; peer recovery services; suicide prevention services; geriatric services; disaster emergency services; a comprehensive System of Care-based child, youth, and family supports services.

The Division of Substance Abuse Services’ responsibilities include planning, developing, administering, and evaluating a statewide system of substance use, abuse, and addiction services for the general public, persons at risk for substance abuse, and persons abusing substances. These responsibilities are carried out through partnering with other government agencies, community organizations, faith-based organizations, and advocacy groups. Prevention, treatment, and recovery support services are provided by community based agencies through individual contracts.

The Division of Hospital Services is headed by the Chief of Staff and Hospital Operations and provides oversight to four Regional Mental Health Institutes. The Division of Hospital Services provides such oversight via administrative support, quality management, program services, and clinical services. In addition, this division contracts with three hospitals in East Tennessee to provide inpatient care for the involuntary uninsured emergency care of psychiatric patients. All four Regional Mental Health Institutes are accredited by the Joint Commission.  The Division of Hospital Services is also home to the Office of Forensic & Juvenile Court Services that conducts evaluation and treatment of pre-trial criminal defendants and persons found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.

The Division of General Counsel is headed by the General Counsel who serves as chief legal advisor to the Commissioner and senior leadership.  This division provides legal services to include representing the Department in all legal and administrative proceedings, investigates complaints by service recipients and employee grievances, processes and provides legal sufficiency review for all departmental grants and contracts, and provides privacy, ethics, and compliance counsel. 

The Division of Clinical Leadership is responsible for providing clinical oversight and policy development for the regional mental health institutes and provides clinical consultation to various divisions within the department and other mental health agencies. The division oversees Tennessee’s opioid treatment programs, and coordinates training and support for suicide prevention initiatives in the African American faith communities, Title VI compliance, and trauma-informed initiatives for the department. The division also manages and monitors delivery of a pilot, evidence-based clinical program to children and families when there is parental substance abuse.

The Division of Planning, Policy, and Legislation provides coordination and oversight of the Planning and Policy Council system, as well as all Department strategic planning documents including the Three-year Plan, the Joint Annual Report, the Community Mental Health Services Block Grant application, and its Annual Report.  This division is also responsible for representing the department's interests in the Tennessee General Assembly and in various policymaking processes.  Furthermore, this division  supports the Department’s mission by collaborating with customers to develop an array of quality data products about mental health and substance abuse service needs, utilization and impacts.

The Division of Fiscal Services oversees several accounting functions within the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, which include processing deposits, accounts payable, payroll, and billing for court ordered forensic evaluation services, federal grant management accounting involving cash draws, cost allocation plan review, preparation of federal financial reports and maintenance of effort schedules, and providing accounting oversight and support related to our four regional mental health institutes involving the submission of Medicare, home office, and private pay cost reports and assistance with the completion of the Tennessee Hospital Association Joint Annual Report.

The Office of Communications is responsible for the development and creation of all internal and external communication strategies for the Department. As part of that strategy, the Office of Communications provides final approval of all communication-related material produced within the Department. This Office strives to be responsive and accommodating to the press by responding to all inquiries from news media outlets in a timely manner. This Office coordinates all efforts in response to an Open Record Request on behalf of the Department to ensure that the Department remains in compliance with the requirements established by the “Tennessee Public Records Act.” The Office of Communications Director serves as a liaison between the Department and the Governor’s Communications Office and is responsible for ensuring that our Department’s communication strategy aligns with the Governor’s Administration priorities.

The Office of Human Resources works to ensure the Department has a workforce capable of fulfilling its mission and objectives through policy advice and technical assistance to managers and staff at the Central Office and Regional Mental Health Institutes on matters such as Americans with Disability Act, Equal Employment Opportunity, employee relations, benefits, recruiting, training, performance evaluations, and personnel actions.