October 11, 2019
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National Leaders in the Mental Health Aspects
of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Center for START Services Cares about the Mental Health of People with IDD

This week is World Mental Illness Awareness Week. While 1 in 5 adults will experience mental illness this year, research shows higher prevalence for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities when compared to the general population (1). Despite the higher rates of mental health issues (30-57%) of those with IDD, emergency service utilization trends suggest that appropriate treatments for individuals with MH/IDD are not readily available in the community (2). 

The START model is designed to respond to these disparities in access to appropriate mental healthcare. START services enhance local capacity, promote the development of least-restrictive life enhancing services and supports, and provide education as well as training to providers and caregivers (2).

The main theme of this year’s World Mental Health Day is “suicide prevention”
Clinicians can be hesitant to ask about suicide when patients have developmental disabilities, but you cannot assess risk for suicide unless you ask. In this video, a psychiatrist shows how to screen for suicidal and self-harming behaviors with a patient with developmental disabilities. This video was created for the Best Practice Series on improving primary care, mental health care, and emergency care by H-CARDD Connects at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital.

  1. Andrews, G., Henderson, S., & Hall, W. (2001). Prevalence, comorbidity, disability and service utilization: overview of the Australian national mental health survey. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 178, 145–153.
  2. Kalb, L.G., Beasley, J., Caoili, A., & Klein, A. (2019). Improvement in mental health outcomes and caregiver service experiences associated with the START program. American Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 124(1), 25-34.
Thanks for reading,

The Center for START Services

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Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire