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A World of Opportunities: Bridging I/DD and Mental Health Systems through The Link Center

March 28, 2024

As we close out Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, we are excited to announce the launch of the website for The Link Center—a new resource that will help open doors to the world of opportunities for people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD), brain injuries, and/or other cognitive disabilities who also have mental health conditions.

The new website was created to serve as a national hub of the most relevant and timely resources—including information about best practices, promising strategies, upcoming events, webinars and technical assistance opportunities—to support states, communities, and stakeholders in improving the lives of children and adults with these disabilities. It features materials that are intended for a broad audience, including individuals with disabilities and their families, advocates and allies, policymakers, direct support professionals, and clinical professionals. 

Established by ACL in 2022, The Link Center is focused on building systemwide capacity to provide the support that people with I/DD, brain injury, and/or other cognitive disabilities and mental health conditions need to live and participate in their communities. The center provides state agencies—including state behavioral health, developmental disabilities and Medicaid agencies—with technical assistance and other resources to support policy development, service design, and service coordination across agencies. 

Guided by people who have these co-occurring conditions, including people from underserved communities, the center also provides information, training, and peer-to-peer learning for them, their families, and the professionals who work with them. For example, The Link Center hosts quarterly shared learning groups, which include four sessions on a single topic, each tailored for a different audience. The Link Center’s website includes registration information for April’s sessions, which will discuss “Supporting Someone Through a Transition,” as well as materials from prior shared learning groups.

A key focus for The Link Center is building partnerships and collaboration and facilitating information sharing across the different systems that serve people with I/DD, brain injury, and/or other cognitive disabilities and mental health conditions. For example, The Link Center’s State Policy Academy, which is co-funded by ACL and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), provides state-specific technical assistance and peer learning opportunities to support six states in developing strong plans for cross-system collaboration and policies to ensure that inclusive 988 and crisis response systems meet the needs of children and adults with I/DD, brain injuries, and other cognitive disabilities. 

The Link Center joins a number of initiatives underway across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to transform behavioral health by strengthening systems capacity, connecting more people to care, and supporting the wellbeing of Americans by creating healthy environments, as described in the HHS Roadmap for Behavioral Health Integration. The Roadmap, which was developed in support of the President’s strategy to address the national mental health crisis, affirmed HHS’ commitment to “providing the full spectrum of integrated, equitable, evidence-based, culturally appropriate and person-centered behavioral health care.”

Last modified on 03/28/2024

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