Learn Now

Learn Now: Training Modules

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We are committed to promoting access to quality mental health care for individuals with developmental disabilities. This is available through accessible training content that centers around the needs and voices of individuals with disabilities. The training modules below are stacked to build each lesson on another.  You can do them in any order you prefer if you are only looking for specific information.

Our Training

To request a certificate of completion for any module please contact info@mhddcenter.org.

Partner Training

These training modules are offered through our various partners. Each training has been vetted to ensure it meets the mission and values of the MHDD National Training Center.

Plain Language Summary: Considerations for Improving Services for Native American/American Indian Individuals with Disabilities and Mental Health Concerns

Note About Use of Terms: We will use the acronym NA/AI for Native American/American Indian. These terms are used to refer to the Indigenous people (original cultures in North America prior to colonization) of the United States. Individuals may have their own preference of how to refer to their culture. For example, someone might prefer a more specific description like Alaska Native. Our recommendation is to use the term an individual prefers.

Many service providers are not familiar with Native perspectives on disabilities. Although NA/AI people are said to have the highest rate of disability of any racial/ethnic group. However, this higher identified percentage can be because of many reasons. For example, NA/AI are at-risk for having many factors affecting health. These include poverty and limited access to healthcare. Also, NA/AI adults report experiencing serious psychological distress more often than the general population. Being aware of cultural beliefs and values is important for professionals looking to provide the best service and support they can.

A study found four important factors on how disabilities are viewed by NA/AI people. This study was done by hearing directly from NA/AI people on this topic.

Disabilities are subjective. Many NA/AI people agreed having a disability means someone needs more help completing tasks. However, people also agreed that disabilities are subjective. This means that people can decide if they think something is a disability. Some examples of disabilities given were disabilities that affect walking, hearing, seeing, talking, and learning. Illnesses that require a lot of help were given as examples too, like cancer and diabetes. However, there are mixed views on whether mental health concerns are a disability.

Disabilities affect a person’s sense of belonging. Many Native communities treat people with disabilities the same as people without disabilities. Individuals with disabilities are seen as “knowledge keepers” and are important in their communities. However, not everyone views disability the same. Some people with disabilities may be separated from others, which affects their sense of belonging. This can happen in school or at work, and among peers, family, and in other relationships.

Action is needed. NA/AI people felt providers could learn more about how Native people view disability and build relationships with NA/AI communities. This could improve care and providers’ cultural competence.

Individuals with disabilities face barriers to accessing services. People with disabilities can face transportation barriers, long waits and distances for services, and lack of internet access. Other common problems discussed were the process of getting a diagnosis, and not knowing how to begin access services. This means that NA/AI peoples might be experiencing one barrier after another when trying to access services.

Some suggestions for professionals and service providers that NA/AI people agreed on are:

  1. Build trust in Native communities by getting to know people and learning how to support NA/AI people. If someone shows that they can be trusted and are unbiased, then NA/AI families can feel more comfortable and willing to let someone in to help their child.
  2. Learn more about NA/AI culture. This can help professionals communicate and work better with their clients. It can also build rapport with individuals and families.
  3. Include NA/AI values and interests into professional support and work with individuals and families.
  4. Improve education about what services are available and how they can access them.

You can learn more by reading the full Considerations for Improving Services for Native American/American Indian Individuals with Disabilities and Mental Health Concerns fact sheet and recommended resources shared in it.

Plain Language Summary: Considerations to Improve Services for Black/African American Individuals with Disabilities and Mental Health Concerns

People with disabilities often have less access to mental health services. Also, consider how Black and African American people receive mental health services at lower rates. The result is that getting mental health services can be especially difficult for Black and African American people with disabilities. A person’s mental health and cultural experiences often affect how they interact with the world, seek help, and interact with others.

Past and current events can affect whether someone trusts authority figures. In the United States, Black and African Americans are at a higher risk for violence and being arrested. Having a disability can increase these risks for people too. A Black or African American person might worry that being open about their disability will lead to even more discrimination. This is why they might be less likely to use an identity approach. Someone with an identity approach views their disability as an important part of who they are and are proud of their disability.

A recommendation when working with people who are more likely to experience discrimination is to consider current and historical contexts. One approach that emphasizes the need to consider historical, cultural, and gender issues is a trauma-informed approach (TIA). TIA acknowledges how trauma plays a role in someone’s life and interactions. Professionals and organizations using TIA ask, “What has happened to this person?” instead of “What is wrong with this person?” There are many reasons supporting the use of TIA with people with disabilities. Youth with disabilities are at a greater risk for many types of traumas. However, services made for youth with disabilities often focus on changing behavior and do not consider the role trauma plays. TIA makes efforts to avoid bringing up difficult feelings related to past trauma and emphasizes accessibility.

People are influenced by many things and therefore communicate their mental health struggles in different ways. If someone feels judged they might not share their mental health concerns easily. Many Black and African Americans think their friends would judge their mental health concerns. Some also think mental health should not be talked about with family either. Also, if a person has a disability and processes things differently, they may be more likely to use behaviors to express their emotions. This can sometimes look like losing skills and being irritable.

A person’s quality of life and if they prioritize their mental health are affected when they are struggling to meet their basic needs. This is one reason why it is important to “meet people where they are”. This means respecting a person’s circumstances, strengths, and challenges to figure out the most effective ways to offer support. Connecting people with a variety of services to help them meet their needs is one recommendation to improve health and services for Black and African Americans.

It can be easy for people to make assumptions when there is not enough information on a topic. Hearing other people’s stories can help us to make less assumptions and think of more ways to support people. One way to hear people’s stories is through digital storytelling. You can hear about Melissa’s experiences as a hard-of-hearing Black/African American individual with mental health struggles in Melissa Malcolm King’s digital storytelling episode.

For more information and resources, read the full fact sheet on Considerations to Improve Services for Black/African American Individuals with Disabilities and Mental Health Concerns.

Resumen en lenguaje sencillo: Consideraciones para mejorar los servicios para personas de raza negra y afroamericanos con discapacidades y problemas de salud mental

Las personas con discapacidad a menudo tienen menos acceso a los servicios de salud mental. Además, las personas de raza negra y las personas afroamericanas también reciben servicios de salud mental con menos frecuencia que otros. Esto significa que obtener servicios de salud mental puede ser especialmente difícil para las personas de raza negra y las personas afroamericanas con discapacidades. La salud mental y las experiencias culturales de una persona a menudo afectan la forma en que interactúa con el mundo, buscan ayuda e interactúan con los demás.

Los eventos pasados ​​y actuales pueden afectar si alguien confía en las personas con autoridad. En los Estados Unidos, las personas de raza negra y los afroamericanos tiene mayor riesgo de sufrir violencia y ser arrestados. Tener una discapacidad también puede aumentar estos riesgos para las personas. Una persona de raza negra o afroamericana puede preocuparse de que ser abierto sobre su discapacidad aumente la discriminación que experimenta. Por eso es menos probable que utilicen un enfoque de identidad. Alguien con un enfoque de identidad piensa en su discapacidad como una parte importante de quiénes son y está orgulloso de su discapacidad.

Una recomendación cuando se trabaja con personas que tienen más probabilidades de sufrir discriminación es considerar los contextos actuales e históricos. Un enfoque que enfatiza la necesidad de considerar cuestiones históricas, culturales y de género es un enfoque informado sobre el trauma (TIA). TIA reconoce cómo el trauma afecta la vida y las interacciones de alguien. Los profesionales y las organizaciones que utilizan TIA preguntan: “¿Qué le ha pasado a esta persona?” en lugar de “¿Qué le pasa a esta persona?” Hay muchas razones que apoyan el uso de TIA con personas con discapacidad. Los jóvenes con discapacidades tienen más probabilidades de experimentar muchos tipos de traumas. Sin embargo, los servicios hechos para jóvenes con discapacidades a menudo se enfocan en cambiar el comportamiento y no consideran cómo los afecta el trauma. TIA hace esfuerzos para evitar que alguien vuelva a sentir sentimientos difíciles que están relacionados con un trauma pasado y enfatiza la accesibilidad.

Las personas se ven influenciadas por muchas cosas y comunican sus problemas de salud mental de diferentes maneras. Si alguien se siente juzgado, es posible que no comparta fácilmente sus preocupaciones sobre la salud mental. Muchas personas de raza negra y afroamericanos creen que sus amigos juzgarán sus preocupaciones sobre la salud mental. Algunos también piensan que no se debe hablar de la salud mental con la familia. Además, si una persona tiene una discapacidad y procesa las cosas de manera diferente, es más probable que utilice comportamientos para expresar sus emociones. A veces, esto puede parecer una pérdida de habilidades y estar irritable.

La calidad de vida de una persona y si da prioridad a su salud mental, se ve afectada cuando está luchando por satisfacer sus necesidades básicas. Ésta es una de las razones por las que es importante “trabajar con las personas desde donde ellos se encuentran ”. Esto significa respetar las circunstancias, las fortalezas y los desafíos de una persona para descubrir la forma más eficaz de ofrecer apoyo. Conectar a las personas con una variedad de servicios para ayudarlas a satisfacer sus necesidades es una recomendación para mejorar la salud y los servicios para las personas de raza negra y afroamericanos.

Puede ser fácil para las personas hacer suposiciones cuando no hay suficiente información sobre un tema. Escuchar las historias de las personas puede ayudarnos a hacer menos suposiciones y pensar en más formas de apoyar a las personas. Una forma de escuchar las historias de las personas es a través de la narración digital. Puede escuchar sobre las experiencias de Melissa como una persona negra/afroamericana con problemas de audición con problemas de salud mental en el episodio de narración digital de Melissa Malcolm King.

Para obtener más información y recursos, lea la hoja informativa completa sobre Consideraciones para mejorar los servicios para personas de raza negra y afroamericanos con discapacidades y problemas de salud mental.

This course will guide you in an investigation of the phases of a crisis process. You will explore crisis prevention by identifying situations in the environment that can evolve into a crisis and the strategies which might be employed in these situations to prevent or lessen the impact of a crisis. You will also investigate post-event teaching strategies that may be employed to support people after a crisis as well as help to prevent future crises. This course is written for direct support professionals and frontline supervisors who support people with disabilities.

Basic training for primary care providers to prevent and manage behaviors related to mental health symptoms.

This guide provides a foundation for integrating disability content into social work education.


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