Melanie Dallas

Note: the following item was submitted by Highland Rivers Health. – KtE

While I often use this column to write about issues related to behavioral health – mental health, substance use and disabilities – from time to time I feel it’s important to write more specifically about Highland Rivers Health.

And though I am conscientious about trying never to sound like I’m making a sales pitch, I believe it’s crucial to educate about the imperative role of community services boards (CSBs) like Highland Rivers in communities throughout Georgia.

As a safety-net provider, Highland Rivers’ purpose is to ensure behavioral health services are available to everyone, regardless of whether they have insurance or ability to pay (which is why community service boards were recognized by the state as an essential service and remained open during the worst of the pandemic). It’s an extremely important responsibility and one we take seriously.

CSBs like Highland Rivers are front-line providers of what the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) defines as Core behavioral health services – crisis intervention and stabilization, individual and family counseling, psychiatric evaluation, peer support and much more.

Highland Rivers also provides high intensity and longer-term programs such as assertive community treatment, intensive case management and residential services, as well as supported employment, youth clubhouses and prevention services. We work to meet people where they are, and as need has grown, so have we.

Over the past several years, we have almost doubled our staff and annual budget. We successfully transitioned to a significant new funding structure, moved nearly 400 staff from a staffing agency into Highland Rivers employment, and most recently, weathered a challenging pandemic.

However, even as Highland Rivers has faced challenges we have maintained a focus on our purpose and mission. While organizational mission statements can sometimes be cumbersome and jargon-filled, we recently rewrote ours to be simple and meaningful.

Toward that end, I want to share our mission, vision and values, the guiding principles by which Highland Rivers operates and discharges our responsibilities.

Mission: We are a healing organization committed to service that improves all lives in our communities

Vision: A community built on health, hope and compassion


Integrity – the quality of being honest, having strong moral principles; the state of being whole, undivided and unified; following your moral and ethical convictions and doing the right thing in all circumstances, even when no one is watching

Respect – due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights and traditions of others; a condition where everyone is treated fairly, regardless of work experience, time with the company, gender, cultural background or any other distinguishing factor.

Empowerment – authority or power given to someone to do something; the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life; in the workplace this can mean the authority given to make critical decisions to positively impact the agency or to carry out the agencies mission.

Collaboration – the action of working with someone to create or produce something; working actively and positively with others to affect an overall positive impact

Recovery – a deeply personal, unique, and self-determined journey through which an individual strives to reach his/her full potential

Transparency – behavior that is characterized by openness, active communication and awareness of your personal and professional accountability

Compassion – kindness, caring and a willingness to help others

Fiscal Responsibility – making and supporting financial decisions which will help to sustain the mission and work of the agency as a whole; a financial focus on whole agency success rather than individual or department level success.

Highland Rivers’ mission, vision and values are more than just words on a page to us – they are a beacon for us, through challenging times and good times. They are a reminder of our commitment to those we serve, and to each other. We help improve peoples’ lives every day, and there is no greater purpose than that.

Melanie Dallas is a licensed professional counselor and CEO of Highland Rivers Health, which provides treatment and recovery services for individuals with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities in a 12-county region of northwest Georgia that includes Bartow, Cherokee, Floyd, Fannin, Gilmer, Gordon, Haralson, Murray, Paulding, Pickens, Polk and Whitfield counties.

Leave a comment

Please Login to Comment.