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Press Release: DIDD Launches Teams to Support Mental Health Needs of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Tuesday, August 17, 2021 | 10:47am

DIDD Launches Teams to Support Mental Health Needs of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
Five Tennessee START Assessment and Stabilization Teams positioned across the state for crisis response and clinical consultation and support

NASHVILLE—The Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) has launched five teams statewide to expand support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have complex behavioral or mental health needs.

The Tennessee START Assessment and Stabilization Teams (TN START AST) are a collaboration between DIDD and the Center for START Services. The five teams will be based in Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville, and cover multiple counties in each region. Each team began accepting referrals in late July.

“Too often, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who experience a mental health crisis are sent to an emergency room, which is not equipped to meet their needs,” DIDD Commissioner Brad Turner said. “The assessment and stabilization teams will not only be able to provide onsite crisis response by people who have expertise in supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities but can proactively work with people and community providers to prevent behavioral crises from happening in the first place.”

TN START AST will provide the following services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities:

• 24/7 onsite or remote crisis response and consultation
• On-going cross-systems crisis stabilization planning to include prevention and intervention for eligible individuals
• Clinical consultation, education, and training
• Establishing and maintaining formalized community partnerships and systems linkages
• Comprehensive assessment and evaluation of support needs, existing services, and available resources.
• Assessment and facilitation of therapeutic resource center admissions
• Systemic analysis, consultation and support


Referrals for TN START AST can be made by anyone via the TN START AST website. Once a referral is received, TN START staff will work with eligible referred individuals and their service/support team to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the needs of the person, develop a person-centered cross-systems crisis prevention and intervention, and provide training and support in order to reach sustained stabilization for the individual and their system of care.

Consistent with the department’s vision, TN START AST will maintain strong community inclusion values with the goal of helping individuals remain in their home or community placement while ensuring that person-centered services and supports are right sized to allow the individual to live the life they envision for themselves.

“These teams fill a significant void in Tennessee for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Turner said. “By being proactive and engaging people, providers and community members in training and planning, we can avoid unnecessary institutionalization and support people to live and contribute to their communities.”

TN START AST is using a phased rollout approach. Currently, this service is available to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who have co-occurring mental health needs that are enrolled in the 1915(c) waivers and Employment and Community First CHOICES program, the state’s two home and community-based services programs for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. In the future, DIDD plans to make this service available to all persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 6 and up.

To make a referral to TN START AST visit: https://www.tn.gov/didd/for-consumers/assessment-stabilization-teams.html


About DIDD

DIDD is the state agency responsible for administering services and support to Tennesseans with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Every day, the department strives to support thousands of people to live rewarding and fulfilling lives through Medicaid waiver Home and Community Based Services (HCBS), state-operated ICF/IIDs, and the Family Support Program. DIDD also provides services to children ages birth to three years old with developmental delays or disabilities through the Tennessee Early Intervention System, and children under the age of 18 with disabilities or complex medical needs through the Katie Beckett Program.