Tennessee Awarded $9 Million for Mental Health Services in Knox County

Thursday, October 08, 2009 | 10:27am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities has received a $9 million grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to implement a coordinated system of care for youth in Knox County over the next six years, called the K-Town Youth Empowerment Network. Effective September 30, 2009, the grant is a result of the partnership between the department, Tennessee Voices for Children, the Helen Ross McNabb Center, and the Centerstone Research Institute. 

The focus of a system of care is to foster collaboration between state and local agencies, schools, and families to provide appropriate mental health services and supports for youth with serious emotional disturbances or serious mental illnesses and their families to help them function more effectively at home, in school, and within their community.

“It’s so important that we give Tennessee’s young people the support they need to thrive in school and the community,” said Governor Phil Bredesen. “This funding will help families, schools and community agencies work together to build relationships that will benefit the young adult as they learn to live with their mental illness.”

“The K-Town Youth Empowerment Network promises to offer an effective approach to delivering mental health services and system transformation through an enhanced culturally competent, family-driven and coordinated system of care,” stated TDMHDD Commissioner Virginia Trotter Betts. “The close working relationship, a true partnership among all parties involved, allowed us to receive these funds that will benefit one of Tennessee’s most vulnerable populations. Without the strong collaboration illustrated here, this achievement would not have been possible.” 

K-Town anticipates serving at least 400 youth with serious emotional disturbances or serious mental illnesses ages 14 to 21 residing in Knox County. A main goal of the program will be to develop a service infrastructure that will empower caregivers, youth, and families with knowledge, skills, resources and support they need for these youth to be successful in their everyday lives. The program hopes to improve outcomes for youth with serious emotional disturbances or serious mental illnesses and their families.

“Research has shown that, at any given time, approximately 9,000 youth in Knox County ages 14 to 21 are currently experiencing a mental illness,” said Dr. Freida Outlaw, assistant commissioner for the Division of Special Populations at TDMHDD. “This grant will help to increase community awareness about serious emotional disturbances and serious mental illnesses, reduce the associated stigma, and lead to better outcomes for youth with serious emotional disturbances or serious mental illnesses and their families.”

“Treatment is more beneficial to the youth and their families when they are cared for and successful in their homes, schools and communities,” said Charlotte Bryson, Executive Director at Tennessee Voices for Children. “Systems of care like the K-Town Youth Network provide the opportunity for collaboration between different agencies in the community to ensure a comprehensive array of care, while wrapping effective services around the youth and family within a family-driven, youth guided framework.”

Tennessee currently has systems of care in Maury County (The MuleTown Family Network) and Shelby County (The JustCare Family Network). Nashville Connection was Tennessee’s first system of care.

For additional information about Tennessee’s systems of care or mental health and substance abuse information please contact the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities’ Office of Communications at (615) 253-4812 or visit www.tn.gov/mental.

Press Releases | Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services