Frontline Initiative Dual Diagnosis

Frontline Notes

Welcome to our Frontline Initia­tive issue on Dual Diagnosis. We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the national leading organization for dual diagnoses, the NADD (an association advocating on behalf of individuals with a dual diagnosis) for this issue. Together, we bring you a variety of perspec­tives related to providing effective supports for individuals with the challenging and complex needs inherent to dual diagnoses.

Dr. Robert Fletcher, Founder and CEO of NADD, served as an author and editor in contributing to this issue. In the cover story, he provides an overview of dual diagnoses and explains the most common types of mental health needs experienced by individuals with intellectual and developmen­tal disabilities (I/DD) in our cover story. Dr. Fletcher also describes competency areas that are criti­cal for DSP supporting individuals with dual diagnoses.

DSPs play an important role in assuring that a person with I/DD and a mental health need receives appropriate assessment and treatment. In Partnering on Mental Health Needs: DSPs on the Frontline, Thomas Cheetham, MD, and Bruce Davis, PhD, identify important questions for DSPs to consider when sharing informa­tion related to changes in an indi­vidual’s behavior with a behavioral health professional. In her article, Providing Excellent Support to Individuals with a Dual Diagno­sis: A Major League Approach, DSP Erin Paul describes how DSPs can provide effective supports to individuals with I/DD by creatively comparing the success of DSPs to that of a baseball team.

Elizabeth Dykens, PhD, explains how we can de-stress and increase positivity in our lives in Promot­ing Good Mental Health through Stress-Reduction and Self-Care. And Cheryl Felak, a mother of a son with a dual diagnosis, shares how DSPs have been critical in fos­tering her own mental health and positive well-being in her heartfelt story, How Do I Spell Relief? C-A-R-E-G-I-V-E-R.

In this issue, we are lucky to feature two self-advocates’ per­spectives related to dual diagnosis. In It’s Hard to Explain… Defining my identity and finding success through self-advocacy, Daniel Ekman describes the complexity around labeling disabilities, and shares important experiences that have influenced his overall well­being and personal success. You may find self-advocate Laurel Rose Dean’s article, Active listening and respect: How to honor a person’s strengths and space, particularly relevant and helpful, as she shares concrete tips for DSPs support­ing people with I/DD and mental health needs.

We hope you will enjoy this issue as you learn more about supporting individuals with dual diagnoses.