NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says Doug Varney is retiring as commissioner of the state Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Varney has served in Haslam's Cabinet since the start of the Republican governor's first term in 2011.
During his time in charge of the department, Varney oversaw an overhaul of the mental health system in East Tennessee to better serve long-term patients by transitioning them to community-based programs.
The agency also worked to improve medical and business operations at state hospitals and to address the prescription drug epidemic in Tennessee. Other initiatives included boosting grant funding to help veterans, increasing suicide prevention efforts and establishing best practices guidelines on mental health and substance abuse.