By Kym Klass
In her “come full circle” career, Lynn Beshear believes everything she has accomplished has led her to oversee the state’s mental health system.
It comes from her time working in the Intensive Care Nursery at Duke University Medical Center, to her latest 17-year stint as executive director of Envision 2020 – where mental health was on the forefront of her agenda the past few years – and everything in between.
And in the community, it is her leadership, her visions and her goals.
As Beshear sits in her office at 100 North Union St., within sight of a side door to the Capitol Building she has special access to, the newly appointed commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health focuses on partnerships, planning and prevention.
“I want to make this department relevant,” she said. “I think most people feel like it’s just ‘there’ and it really doesn’t relate to their lives. And what’s ironic, is that it’s the Alabama Department of Mental Health, but there’s 100 percent focus on mental illness.
“There’s never going to be enough money, and we need to back up and say ‘What do we need to do starting at birth, or maybe before, for people to be mentally healthy?’ The best-intentioned people in the world, from the best families imaginable, are still going to get schizophrenia, and bipolar disease, and major depression. Because these are diseases. These are not character flaws.”