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Group honors Commissioner Varney with highest award

Thursday, December 13, 2012 | 09:42am

NASHVILLE –- The Tennessee Association of Mental Health Organizations (TAMHO) recently honored Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS), with the President’s Award, which is given at the discretion of the outgoing TAMHO board president to recognize extraordinary contributions to the field of mental health.


Gene Lawrence, TAMHO president and executive director of Southeast Mental Health Center in Memphis, presented the award to Commissioner Varney during the TAMHO 2012 Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony earlier this month at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro.


Having known and worked beside Commissioner Varney for more than 20 years, Mr. Lawrence said in his comments that he views the commissioner as a true visionary whose career has been based on doing what is right and that his view of the world has always been one in which everyone has the chance to develop their full potential. Commissioner Varney is someone who naturally sees opportunities and ways to remove obstacles, Mr. Lawrence added, and he has a long and distinguished history of advocating at the local, state and national level to improve services, obtain funding, reduce the stigma of mental illness, and improve the lives of others.


Prior to his appointment in January 2011, Commissioner Varney worked at Frontier Health for more than 30 years, beginning as a psychological examiner and working his way to the CEO position. Additionally, he provided many years of service as a member of the TAMHO Board of Directors, including service as president and chairman of the Legislative Committee. He had previously been awarded the TAMHO 2005 Dorothea Dix Professional Service award.


According to their website at, TAMHO is a statewide trade association celebrating over 50 years of service and representing Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs) and other not-for-profit corporations that provide behavioral health services. These organizations continue to meet the needs of Tennesseans, from all age groups and socioeconomic levels, with a mental illness or substance abuse diagnosis. The TAMHO member organizations have been the virtual cornerstone of the community-based behavioral health system throughout the state since the 1950s and today serve as the primary provider network for the TennCare Partners Program.

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