Skip to Main Content

Contracted Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in West Tennessee to be Centrally Located

Thursday, July 18, 2013 | 11:32am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) has announced a plan to co-locate a number of behavioral health services that the state contracts with Southeast Mental Health Center (SEMHC) for residents of Memphis and Shelby County in a single location at Memphis Mental Health Institute (MMHI), effective July 1, 2013.

The affected services – all of which are voluntary services – are:

  • Walk-in Services: Assessment, referral and follow-up for individuals in need of outpatient behavioral health services or immediate, limited, crisis intervention services.
  • Mobile Crisis Services: Assessment, triage and referral of individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The assessment can be within the facility or elsewhere in the community.
  • Crisis Stabilization Services: An alternative to inpatient hospitalization providing up to 96 hours of assessment, care, and supervision, including group therapy and medication management.
  • Respite Services: Short-term support in a setting with limited supervision allowing for individuals to de-escalate or resolve an environmental crisis.
  • Medically Monitored Crisis Detoxification (MMCD) Services: Safe detoxification from chemical dependency for individuals in a behavioral health crisis may utilize this level of care for up to seven (7) days. Priority is given to pregnant women and intravenous (IV) drug users. Individuals are transitioned from MMCD Services to long-term substance abuse rehabilitation.


“Co-locating these services in one centrally located facility will provide the community with a ‘safety net hub’ where people who are in need can potentially access any level of care that might be appropriate,” says TDMHSAS Commissioner Douglas Varney. “This will be a better use of resources and provides more opportunities for integrating services in one location. It will also help us improve patient care by integrating the acute-care services and crisis services in one location.”

Since February 2012, the average daily census of MMHI has not exceeded 55 patients, even though it has capacity for 75. This move will reduce the number of beds at MMHI by 20 but will not reduce the license capacity for the facility, which allows for improved efficiency, a better use of state resources, and the “right-sizing” of the hospital based on the census and the community’s needs.

“We believe the citizens of Shelby County would be served more efficiently and effectively through the co-location of contracted TDMHSAS crisis services within the Regional Mental Health Institute,” wrote Gene Lawrence, Executive Director of SEMHC, and Lisa A. Daniel, CEO of MMHI, in a letter to Commissioner Varney, requesting this change.

The TDMHSAS anticipates that this move will save the state about $2.5 million; that projected savings will be used to help develop local community placements for people in West Tennessee – especially from Memphis and Shelby County – who have long-term care needs instead of having to keep them in other state-run hospitals. The TDMHSAS is in the process of working with community behavioral health partners to create up to 32 new or enhanced supportive housing options in Memphis and Shelby County, in addition to other community mental health and substance abuse services.

As part of their due diligence, TDMHSAS officials met with Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton, Dottie Jones of Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s Office, and Dr. Reginald Coopwood of The Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The MED), who were all supportive of this idea and recognize how integral the crisis services system is.

“This co-location is critical for our law enforcement agencies, who encounter citizens with substance abuse and mental health disorders on a daily basis,” said Dottie Jones, Director of the Shelby County Division of Community Services. “It is often difficult to differentiate between substance abuse and mental illness, and this location allows law enforcement officers to bring people in need to one location for assessment and help.”

For more information, please contact TDMHSAS Director of Communications Michael Rabkin at (615) 532-6597 or

Media Advisories | Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services | Press Releases