NEWS RELEASE

The de la Parte Institute

" Institute Dean Elected Chair of Special Gubernatorial Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse"

[341 words]
(Tampa, November 18, 1999)

David L. Shern, Professor and Dean of the University of South Florida's Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, is the newly elected chair of the Governor's Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Shern was elected by the 25-member appointed body at its first meeting on November 16th in Tallahassee.

The commission was established by the Florida Legislature, and its members were appointed by Governor Jeb Bush. It is charged with studying the public mental health and substance abuse systems and services and making recommendations to the governor and legislature. It will look at such issues as access to care, financing, accountability, integration and coordination of services, priority populations, and consumer needs. It will also address the unique mental health and substance abuse needs of older persons.

"It is a great honor to be a part of this critical work," said Shern. "The establishment of this commission comes at a time when more people receive services in schools, in prisons, in and in primary care settings than in specialty mental health settings. Our challenge is to protect the public's mental health in these diffused service settings."

As Dean of the de la Parte Institute, Shern oversees the state's only mental health research and training institute. Prior to coming to the University of South Florida, he was the Director of the National Center for the Study of Issues in Public Mental Health - a federally funded services research center in the New York Office of Mental Health. In addition, he directed the Evaluation and Services Research Bureau in the New York OMH. Dr. Shern has held academic positions at the State University of New York at Albany, New York University, and the University of Colorado. He currently serves on the advisory boards for several national organizations devoted to mental health services research and development.

The Commission is expected to make its report and recommendations by December, 2000.

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