Bryan Stephens–the Executive Director of Atlanta Detox Center and Atlanta Center for Mental Health–grew up in Marietta, Georgia, and hasn’t found a reason to go too far. “I’m an Atlanta Metropolitan native, and I have made a career of service in my community,” he said. “I really love Cobb County and my community and where I grew up, so I wanted to stay where my roots were.” With a brief excursion to Florida to earn a BS in Psychology from Florida Tech in Melbourne, Stephens returned home to earn a Masters in Psychology from Georgia School of Professional Psychology. After undergrad, Stephens didn’t have much time to sit around. “My dad told me I had six weeks to get a job and move out of the house,” he said. “The plan was to get my masters and work as a therapist until I got my license and then go to the private sector.
Around the time I got licensed I began doing management positions.” Stephens began working as a house parent at the Cobb County Community Services Board before moving on to case management and work as a therapist. It was from there he took on more management positions. “As I got to do more management, I went back to get my Executive MBA from Kennesaw State University,” he said. “Eventually I became the CEO of the organization.” In his years of experience at many managerial levels, Stephens has worked with the whole spectrum of behavioral health: developmental disabilities, mental health disorders and substance use disorders. He recognizes that many of these disorders co-occur, but said he has only recently seen the stigma surrounding mental health begin to subside.
Stephens believes that having the services provided by ACMH and ADC–including medication stabilization, GeneSight testing and naltrexone and vivitrol–all in one location is unique. This, he says, is sorely needed in the world of behavioral health medicine. “From the mental health side, there are not a lot of residential mental health treatment programs out there. For those folks it’s outpatient or you’re in a hospital,” he said. “But here, they can have a face-to-face visit with a provider daily.” Although he initially started training to be an engineer, Stephens believes he got the bug to become a therapist after he received treatment for a learning disability when he was a child. The career path has been rewarding, and he knows it works. “A lot of therapists have received therapy themselves,” he said. “So, I think that connected with my natural sense of nurture.”