Do you support clients with intellectual or developmental disabilities? A free, online training series, focusing on mental health, helps people who care for, support or advocate for people with IDD.

Mental Health Wellness for Individuals with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability, a series of six modules developed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services and the Texas Department of State Health Services educates direct-service workers and others on the mental health needs of people with an IDD by recognizing the "whole person." It provides information on what can affect clients' feelings, behavior and thoughts, and provides tools to help improve their quality of life.

"The training gives an overview of why people with IDD sometimes display challenging behaviors and how to support their mental wellness," said Novella Evans, program specialist in the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's Medical and Social Services Division. She said training provides guidance based on understanding a person's life, including any trauma history, medical needs and genetic conditions that may be present.

Texas rolled out the training in June 2016 and was the first state to offer it. Several states are now using it with about 500 users from across the country completing at least one module per week.

“A number of providers work with people with IDD who struggle with mental health issues, and this training can help them support those people," said Evans.

The modules are stand-alone units and can be taken in any order, although the sixth and final module builds upon the others and offers strategies people can use when helping people with IDD and co-occurring behavioral health needs.

To take the training, visit www.mhwidd.com.

The Mental Health Wellness for Individuals with an Intellectual or Developmental Disability training includes:

  • Co-occurring disorders: IDD and Mental Illness
  • Trauma-informed Care for Individuals with IDD
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment and Behavior Support
  • Overview of Genetic Syndromes Associated with IDD
  • Overview of Medical Diagnoses Associated with IDD
  • Putting It All Together: Supports and Strategies for Direct Service Workers