Many Georgians with addiction and/or mental health challenges also have backgrounds which serve as a barrier to long-term recovery. In February 2015, Georgia’s Governor Nathan Deal signed an executive order implementing a “ban the box” policy that outlaws a requirement for people with criminal histories to disclose that information on a job form.
This didn’t happen by accident. It was the result of years of advocacy by GCSA and recovery allies, and allies for returning citizens. And, like other changes that appear dramatic and sudden, it came after incremental change that went unnoticed by most of the general public.
One of those incremental steps was the August 2014 reversal of an April 2012 policy that was adopted by Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities that created barriers to employment for people in recovery that also had criminal histories–even very minor infractions. GCSA and the Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network worked vigorously over that two year period to remove that barrier to long-term recovery. The updated policy included language that speaks to the heart of the recovery movement:
DBHDD recognizes that individuals with a history of mental health and/or substance abuse diagnoses can and do recover.