BLOG: Working Together: Local Experts in Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Are Identifying Important Intersections in Service

Categories: Blog, Featured News

DDawareness-graphic-squareMarch is National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. According to the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities (NACDD), the goal for this month is to raise awareness about developmental disabilities, tell stories of people who live with a disability and show their lives. Visit their webpage » to check out resource guides, social media images, links, campaign story submissions, archived webinars and PowerPoint presentations to help promote awareness.

So why should the behavioral health system raise awareness of developmental disabilities? Isn’t that a completely different system of services and individuals? Although there are some differences between the two systems, there are actually points of overlap that are critical and necessary to recognize and address in order to provide effective services for our community.

Did you know that one out of three individuals with a developmental disability has a mental illness? According to Tricia Burke, Licensed Independent Social Worker and author, approximately 172,500 children and adults living in Ohio have an intellectual disability, and approximately one-third of them, or 57,000 people, will have a co-occurring mental illness. Burke writes that the rate of mental illness is much higher in the DD population than in the overall population. “There is a three to six time increased rate of psychiatric and behavior problems in individuals with ID compared to the general population.”

So what is Stark County doing to help individuals with both developmental disabilities and mental illness? In 2010, Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery (StarkMHAR) and Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities (SCBDD) formed a collaborative called the Mental Illness/Developmental Disabilities (or MI/DD) Collaborative. This collaborative plans weekly meetings for cross-system case consultation to identify training needs for the community. The purpose of the case consultations is to identify the balance of services needed to help individuals receiving services in both the mental health and the DD systems. The collaborative does so by utilizing system resources and supports available to meet the needs of the individual, by clarifying the roles of the professionals that are working with the individual and by remaining strengths-based and solution-focused. Referrals for an MI/DD case consultation can come from the mental health or DD provider working with the individual. MI/DD referral forms » are available online. You can also contact Stephanie Kutcher at StarkMHAR at 330-455-6644 or the Stark County Board of Developmental Disabilities at 330-477-5200 with questions or for more information.

Sources: (accessed March 14, 2017).
Burke, Tricia (2013). Dual Diagnosis: Overview of Therapeutic Approaches for Individuals with Co-Occurring Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities and Mental Illness for Direct Support Staff & Professionals working in the Developmental Disability System [White paper].

About Stephanie Kutcher

Stephanie Kutcher, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor with almost 10 years of experience in the behavioral health field. She has a Master of Arts Degree in Counseling and Human Development, with a dual study in mental health and school counseling. Stephanie is the Client Services Coordinator at Stark County Mental Health & Addiction Recovery. In her role, she is the organization’s Client Rights Officer, and she works to assist the current system of care in becoming more trauma-informed. Stephanie participates in multiple community collaboratives and committees, covering topics such as trauma and resiliency, mental illness and developmental disabilities and human trafficking. She has experience working in the partial hospitalization and non-profit settings in clinical and administrative roles. She has also worked in group homes with various populations including adolescents, as well as adults with both mental health diagnoses and developmental disabilities.