Alejandra: A Wraparound Success Story

Alejandra: A Wraparound Success Story

When the Care Coordinator at Lookout Mountain Community Services met 13-year-old Alejandra,* she was depressed, rarely leaving her bedroom or getting out of her pajamas, and showing her mom photos of people she’d learned had taken their own lives. She’d almost completely stopped going to school, even though her ESOL teacher had asked her to sign an attendance contract. The Care Coordinator told Alejandra how building a wraparound team of support could help her, and discovered she loved animals. The Care Coordinator also encouraged her to go to counseling, where she revealed to the counselor that a couple of other students at school had threatened to hurt her. The wraparound team applauded Alejandra in sharing this, and helped get her started with equine therapy sessions. At equine therapy, she learned to build a relationship with a horse and use her voice to motivate it to go where she wanted to ride. After a couple of months, Alejandra agreed to meet with school officials to identify who had threatened her, and school counselors remarked how Alejandra had gotten stronger in communicating her needs. Now Alejandra is thriving again in school and wants to become a flight attendant. The wraparound team believes Alejandra had what it took to succeed, and just needed support to help her. If you know someone who could benefit from this kind of support, call Tommy for northern Georgia at 423-618-6767 or email to complete a referral for free wraparound services. For southern Georgia, call Anna at 478-283-7777 or email to complete a referral. You can also click on for more information.

• Name changed

Cuando el Coordinador de atención de Lookout Mountain Community Services se reunió con Alejandra, de 13 años de edad, estaba deprimida, raramente salía de su dormitorio o salía de su pijama, y mostraba a sus madres fotos de personas que había aprendido que habían tomado sus propias vidas. Casi por completo dejó de ir a la escuela, a pesar de que su profesor de ESOL le había pedido que firmara un contrato de asistencia. La Coordinadora de cuidados le dijo a Alejandra que la construcción de un equipo de apoyo podría ayudarla, y descubrió que amaba a los animales. El Coordinador de cuidado también la animó a ir a consejería, donde ella reveló al consejero que un par de otros estudiantes en la escuela habían amenazado lastimarla. El equipo envuelto aplaudió a Alejandra al compartir esto, y ayudó a que comenzara con sesiones de terapia equina. En la terapia equina, aprendió a construir una relación con un caballo y a usar su voz para motivarla a ir adonde ella quería montar.

Después de un par de meses, Alejandra aceptó reunirse con los oficiales de la escuela para identificar quién la había amenazado, y los consejeros de la escuela comentaron cómo Alejandra se había fortalecido en la comunicación de sus necesidades. Ahora Alejandra está prosperando de nuevo en la escuela y quiere convertirse en una azafata. El equipo envolvente cree que Alejandra tuvo lo necesario para triunfar, y sólo necesitaba apoyo para ayudarla. Si conoce a alguien que pueda beneficiarse de este tipo de apoyo, llame a Faith a 423-582-8331 o envíe un correo electrónico a para completar una remisión para servicios de envolvente gratuitos.

• Cambio de nombre

Youth Art & Poetry Contest for Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

From: Sue Smith, Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network

Annual Art & Poetry Contest

Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

The Georgia Freight Depot
65 M.L.K. Jr Dr SW, Atlanta, GA 30303

All elementary, middle and high school aged youth are encouraged to participate. It’s as Easy as 1-2-3!

  1. Enter one of two categories: Visual Art or Creative Writing
  2. Entries must illustrate the theme: Partnering for Health and Hope Following Trauma
  3. Submit entry form with art work or poem before April 20, 2018

Entry Form

Please contact Sheena Biggerstaff (404) 758-4500 ext. 107

CARES 28 Workshops Announced

From Georgia Council on Substance Abuse:

What is CARES?

CERTIFIED ADDICTION RECOVERY EMPOWERMENT SPECIALIST (CARES) VISION We envision a recovery-oriented system of care that supports self-directed pathways to recovery by building on the strengths and resilience of individuals, families and communities. MISSION The mission of Georgia CARES is to promote long-term recovery from substance use disorders by providing experienced peer support and advocating for self-directed care. WHAT The Certified Addiction Recovery Empowerment Specialist (CARES) is a training program parallel to the mental health certified peer specialist program and began in September, 2010, through a contract with the Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD). This training program is part of an ongoing effort to create a recovery-oriented system of care where peer-based recovery support is used as a fundamental part of community-based services that enhance the treatment and recovery experience. This is a 40-hour (one-week) training course, that is followed by continuing support of CARES Faculty, trained peers & supervisors. WHO People in recovery who are interested in becoming a CARES must apply through the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse and be approved by the CARES Selection Subcommittee.

CARES Academy Workshops

The cornerstone of a recovery-oriented system of care is (ROSC) is a vibrant, well-trained peer workforce. The CARES/ROSC Workshop introduces concepts of peer recovery support to members of the recovery community, and provides them with assistance in preparing for the written and interview portions of the CARES Academy application process.

February Workshops*:

  • February 2, Decatur
  • February 8, Morrow
  • February 10, Lawrenceville
  • February 15, Atlanta
  • February 17, Gainesville

Register here for a CARES Academy Workshop

*Time and location information is on the registration page.

CARES Academy 28 April 16-20, 2018

March 5th – Applications due to the Georgia Council on Substance Abuse through our online application system.

For more information about CARES, please visit the GCSA website HERE



Seize the Awkward

Talking about mental health can be really uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be as simple as asking a friend or someone you care about, “Hey, are you ok?”

To make it a little easier for us all to get through those awkward moments, the Ad Council, American Society for Suicide Prevention, and the JED Foundation teamed up to create an awesome new site, Seize the Awkward.

Seize the Awkward is full of tips for how to recognize if someone you love is going through a hard time and ways you can start the conversation. There are even personal stories from people like Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) and Liza Koshy (Freakish) about how friends helped them through difficult times and how talking through those awkward moments can make all the difference.

So go ahead, seize that awkward moment, you, and your friend, will be so glad you did.


Parent CPS-P Announcement – March 2018

From: Dana McCary, Parent & Youth Peer Specialist Coordinator, DBHDD

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), Office of Children, Young Adults & Families (OCYF) and the Office of Recovery Transformation (ORT), in partnership with the Office of Federal Grant Programs and Special Initiatives is pleased to announce that registration is now open for the upcoming Parent Certified Peer Specialist (CPS-P) training.

This five-day event is scheduled for the week of March 19th – March 23rd, 2018. This training is intended for enrollees who meet lived experience expectations. The application, along with eligibility requirements, are available for download below.

Applications, along with documentation, must be submitted by February 30th, 2018

Parent CPS-P Announcement December 2017

From Dana McCrary, Parent & Youth Peer Specialist Coordinator, DBHDD:

Registration is now open for the upcoming Parent Certified Peer Specialist (CPS-P) training. This five-day event is scheduled for the week of December 11th – December 15th, 2017. This training is intended for enrollees who meet the lived experience expectations. Please find the application along with eligibility requirements outlined in the announcement below.

Applications along with documentation must be submitted by November 30th, 2017.

News: Update Your Favorites

We recently received an updated set of criteria for IC3 (Intensive Customized Care Coordination) from DBHDD (Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities) , which required us to make some changes to the Pre-Referral Questionnaire for ages 6-21. This new set of criteria not only decreased the complexity of qualification, but it also increased the number of ways a child/youth may qualify for CME services.

It is important that referring parties use the newest form, which can be found at, to prevent youth who do meet criteria from being screened out prematurely and decrease chances a referral will be delayed/denied due to being incomplete. If you have this form saved as a favorite in your browser, please delete the old form and save the new one.

Resource: Pathways Transition Programs Expands to New Counties

Staff at Pathways Transition Programs recently shared they have extended coverage area to provide IFI (Intensive Family Intervention) services in Bartow, Cobb, and Paulding Counties.

In their brochure, Pathways explains IFI as an intensive, family-based therapy which is designed for children and families undergoing prolonged periods of distress or crisis. The provide the service in the home and work with the family to strengthen and stabilize the family system and home environment. This not only supports the family in finding a balance in recovery, but also decreases the need for hospitalization or other out of home placements. IFI also supports children and families in transitioning from back to the home after being in a higher level of care. Staff assist the family to gain an enhanced perspective and understanding of the child’s emotional needs and enhance their ability to manage problematic behaviors while promoting self-control and family communication.

Please see the referral form below for details on how you can refer a family for services.


Resource: Gilmer Home Again Accepting Referrals

From Highland Rivers Health

The Gilmer Home Again Program is staffed and ready to begin taking referrals.

As a reminder, the Home Again program is a two week, intensive out-patient program that is designed to help avert crises and keep children from having to be removed from their homes.  This program can also be tailored to the family that is working to transition children back into their homes, after being in foster care, for example.  For those referred, we will be designing treatment plans that will allow for children and families to be seen in school, at home, and at our facility at 1950 Old Pleasant Valley Road, Talking Rock.

Home Again provides Individual and Family Counseling, both for the youth and for the family.  Family members will be assessed for substance use and mental health barriers and then provided with treatment as needed.  Parents will also be assessed and provided with parenting skills classes, as needed. Families will learn where to get help with other things like food, housing, transportation, child care, utility bills, etc.  Of course all problems will not be resolved in the two weeks families work with Home Again, so at the end of the two weeks, families are referred out for any ongoing services that might be needed.

Gilmer Home Again is located at 1950 Old Pleasant Valley Drive, Talking Rock, downstairs from Kids Kottage.  We can be reached at 706-276-3610.  Attached you will find our referral form.  This form can be completed and emailed to me.  I will personally be following up with all referrals within one business day of receiving it.  If you are unable to email this form to me, please call the number to Home Again (above) and we will get the necessary information from you.

If you would like to schedule a presentation to your group or have questions about the Home Again program, please contact:

Melissa R. Dempsey, MSW, S/T
Highland Rivers Health
Gilmer Home Again Out Patient
Office: 706-635-2739 ext 115