The Behavioral Health and Wellness Advisory Council (BHWAC) was established by Mayor David Briley in May 2018 to promote broad collaboration between government and community partners to support systems change that will ultimately better serve residents and families experiencing behavioral and mental health issues. Made up of a diverse group of public-private stakeholders, The Council is charged with advancing a behavioral health system that supports prevention, awareness, recovery and resilience and equitable access to holistic, comprehensive and affordable care.
The Council also promotes alignment between and amplifies the work of the collective impact initiatives: All Children Excel (ACE) Nashville and the Community Mental Health Systems Improvement workgroup (CMHSI). The Council provides a mechanism for making collective policy, practice and alignment recommendations for inclusion in Metro government’s services and budget.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental health condition and less than half receive treatment. Severe depression among youth has also significantly increased in recent years and, fueled by the opioid epidemic, substance abuse is rising dramatically.
The Council underscores Mayor Briley’s demonstrated commitment to behavioral and mental health since taking office in March 2018 with a particular focus around trauma-informed supports and efforts to address the unmet needs of individuals with behavioral health issues encountering the criminal justice system so that preventable incarcerations decline. In January 2019, Mayor Briley and community leaders participated in the opening of the Mental Health Cooperative’s new crisis treatment center — a partnership between Metro, the State and the cooperative to provide a safe place for those in psychiatric crisis and serves as an important resource for first responders to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system to the care they need. Since implementing new protocols in recent months, the police have seen significantly reduced wait times with persons in crisis (from 100 minutes to an averages of 30 minutes) freeing up more work hours for officers.