Families face significant challenges when a child is diagnosed with either a mental health disorder or an intellectual/developmental disability (I/DD). But what happens when a child is diagnosed with both conditions?
A free online course can prepare mental health professionals and others who work with children who have this dual diagnosis to understand the unique needs of these children. The course may also be useful for those working in human services, justice and medicine.
The self-paced course provides information about behavioral concerns and evidence-based strategies for treatment.
“It’s complicated what these kids need,” explains Lisa Lackmann, an assistant clinical professor at the UNC School of Social Work who teaches the course through the School’s Behavioral Health Springboard initiative. “We want people to get some basic knowledge.”
The course, “Introduction to the Mental Health Needs of Children and Young People with Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities,” introduces key concepts through several learning modules:
Overview of Mental Health Conditions
Overview of Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities
Medical Concerns and Conditions
The Intersection of I/DD and Mental Health
Using Positive Supports to Change Behavior
Wellness/Stress Management and Transition/Crisis Supports
Each module offers a one-hour presentation that includes videos, a self-check quiz and other materials. Users can complete the modules in any order and at any pace.
Information on the online course is available here for individuals who do not require continuing education credit: https://bhs.unc.edu/mh-idd-no-cost
Although the course is free, mental health professionals who require continuing education credit for the course must register for each individual module ($20 each) or for the complete series of seven modules ($100 for the complete series) to receive continuing education credit through NBCC, ASWB and NCSAPPB. Individuals who require continuing education credit can find information here: https://bhs.unc.edu/youth-mh-idd/dashboard
Several groups worked together to develop the course, Lackmann said.
Nicole Cole, project manager with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Mental Health, provided leadership for the project.
Two units at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD) and Carolina Office for Online Learning (COOL) — worked with Cole and Lackmann to create the course content, adapting some materials that were developed by the University of Texas Health Science Center.
The course content addresses the needs of children and families in North Carolina, Lackmann emphasized.
“It’s really about listening to families as the experts on their kids,” she said. “Parents know a lot about what’s going on with their kids, and our work is tied into how carefully we listen.
“We’re trying to reach people in a very ‘siloed’ field,” Lackmann added, describing mental health professionals who may have different backgrounds, training and interests but still provide services to the same groups of children.
In addition to the online course, NC Division of Mental Health will host regional training events for mental health professionals who prefer a face-to-face educational experience. These events will provide information about best practices in serving individuals who have mental illness co-occurring with an intellectual/developmental disability. Each regional training event is a two-day workshop led by Lauren Charlot, Ph.D., and Robert Fletcher, DSW. Regional training events are scheduled this fall in Chapel Hill (Oct. 4–5, 2018) and Asheville (Nov. 7–8, 2018). Information on the regional training events is available here: https://bhs.unc.edu/exploring-mh-needs-youth-i-dd/dashboard