Dual-Diagnosis Help

People who experience disabilities are no less likely to experience mental health issues as anyone else.  In fact, in some cases, people may be more likely to experience a mental health disorder (e.g., depression).  When a person experiences both a developmental disability and a mental illness, he/she is said to have a "dual-diagnosis." 

Consider these questions adapted from the work of Stephan Schwarz, M.D. and Stephen Ruedrick, M.D. (1996):

  1. Is there a significant change in the person's behavior or mood which occurs in all settings rather than some settings?
  2. Is there little or no improvement in the person's behavior despite the availability of consistent, high quality supports?
  3. Has the person experienced a decreased ability to adapt to the demands of daily living (e.g., a deterioration in his ability to take care of himself)?
  4. Has the person experienced decreased involvement with other people (by her choice)?
  5. Has the person lost interest in formerly preferred activities?
  6. Has the person shown some impairment in his or her perception of reality (e.g., is responding to internal voices, or shows beliefs which are obviously false)?

[From: Schwartz, S.A. & Ruedrich, S. (1996). Psychopathology update: On the distinction between mental illness and behavior problems in people with mental retardation.  Psychiatric Aspects of Mental Retardation Review (15) 60-63].

You may also wish to visit the following web sites for additional information:

Alternative Mental Health Online

Interested in finding alternative and holistic approaches to mental health issues.  This is a great site to start your journey.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

A good starting point for people who care about adolescents who need support for mental health concerns.  Includes a section for families and links to other great resources.

Canadian Mental Health Association

This site contains a great deal of helpful information, including advocacy materials for people who experience a dual-diagnosis and their supporters.  Click on advocacy materials under the "Policy and Action" link.


If you own a handheld computer and want to keep track medications and their side-effects, you might want to purchase a copy of
PDRDrugs (based on the 2002 edition of the Physician's Desk Reference).  PDRDrugs is used by many healthcare professionals and is an excellent source for data on generic and over-the-counter drugs. Available in demo versions with free trials. (Description: PocketPC, May, 2003)

Clear Thoughts

The Clear Thoughts web site covers a variety of topics related to mental health and people who experience disabilities.  For individuals, their families, and professionals who offer support.

Crazy Diamond Training and Consultancy

Based in the UK, Crazy Diamond Training and Consultancy aims "to provide training and consultation with practical helpful responses that avoid much of the psychobabble and over-professionalized language that is currently hampering much of psychiatry and psychotherapy.  [They] believe in helping each person towards their own recovery."  And that statement alone should make you want to visit their site.

Dual-Diagnosis Web Site

People with disabilities may experience a variety of mental health issues.  This wonderful site, developed by folks in Pennsylvania, is an excellent resource for anyone wanting to understand more about mental health issues for people with disabilities. A great site constructed by Greg Pirmann of the Philadelphia Office of Mental Retardation.

"Getting a Life: Findings and Recommendations"

In November of 2004, I participated in and invitational symposium on State strategies for supporting individuals with co-existing conditions sponsored by the National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services.  A copy of the report, prepared by Charles Mosely, Ed.D. can be downloaded from the NASDDDS web site by clicking above.

Guide for Caregivers

John McGee, one of the founders of "Gentle Teaching" and James Glick have written a helpful guide for caregivers call "The Dual Diagnosis: Mental Retardation and Mental Illness. Visit the Gentle Teaching web site and click on "Our Library."

Journal--Mental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities

Mental Health Aspects of Developmental Disabilities is the first and only journal devoted exclusively to people who experience a developmental disability and mental health disorder.  Available 4 times per year, the journal focuses on diagnosis and habilitation issues.

Kenneth Minkoff, M.D.

Minkoff is one of the leading experts on "dual diagnosis." His work emphasizes the need for long-term relationships between the individual and his caregivers, an important element often missing from our caregiving system.

National Association for the Dually Diagnosed (NADD)

"The mission of the NADD is to advance mental wellness for persons with developmental disabilities through the promotion of excellence in mental health care."  A helpful site with educational products, links, and conference information.

Network of Care and Supports for Behavioral Health and Mental Retardation Services

The City of Philadelphia has done a great job in creating a web site that "is a resource for individuals, families, and agencies concerned with behavioral health and mental retardation services.  It provides information about behavioral health and mental retardation services, laws, and related news, as well as communication tools and other features."  I really like the links section (great mental health links) and the medication library (click on Library--Medications).  Very well done site.  "This web site can greatly assist in our efforts to protect our greatest human asset -- our beautiful minds."

"Picking Up the Pieces of Our Own Mistakes": Supporting People with Co-Occurring Conditions

Written by policy analyst Chas Moseley, Ed.D., of the National Association of State Developmental Disabilities Directors,
"Picking Up the Pieces of Our Own Mistakes" explains some of the reasons why people who experience disabilities often fail to receive support from the mental health system, and what states can do about it. Available for download using Adobe Reader by clicking above.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Because Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is such a huge issue for people experiencing developmental disabilities, a special section of links is available.

Self-Injury -- You Are Not The Only One

As Deb Martinson writes in her introduction to this fine site, "In spite of the title, there is no shame here.  A welcome self-help site for people who hurt themselves, including bulletin boards, personal stories and helpful information about the connection between self-injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Substance Abuse Support

Thanks to Vanessa James for suggesting this site for folks hoping to recover from addictions.  An excellent book on the topic is Marc Lewis' "Memoirs of an Addicted Brain".  Mark Lewis is a neuroscientist who is recovering from several addictions and he writes a compelling story about what was happening in his brain while he used various substances.  A fascinating read.


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