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The Mental Health Services (MHS) Special Interest Group (SIG) is part of the AAIDD Conference of Professional Interests. Similar to the Divisions that represent distinct professions, a Special Interest Group provides a home to common concerns and interests together across support roles.

The name Mental Health Services was selected to reflect the needs of people with mental retardation/developmental disabilities and another mental disorder. A Mental Disorder may be any disturbance in cognitive or emotional functioning that interferes with a major area of life activity such as occupation, relationships, self-direction, personal care, etc. Another term that is gaining recognition is MHIDD (mental health and intellectual/developmental disabilities) as a descriptor of people benefitting from the integration of services.

SEE the new Practical Guide to Autism by Ann Poindexter, MD (not available anywhere on the web but here!!) - Check it out on the INFORMATION MATERIALS page!

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MHS Mission Statement:

To identify and promote high quality, comprehensive mental health supports for persons with intellectual and other developmental disabilities who have or are at risk of having mental health challenges.


Respect, Information, Teamwork
  • Individuals about their experiences
  • Family and friends providing natural supports about their experiences
  • Organizations and staff providing designed supports about their experiences
  • Society providing resources and opportunities


  1. The primary goal of the Mental Health Services SIG is to meet the needs of members. Communication to and among members is a high priority, made easier through the opportunities of the internet. Using that communication, the Mental Health Services SIG seeks to access the strengths that come from connections between consumers, practitioners, policy makers, and researchers.
  2. Members automatically belong to the AAIDD-MHS listserv operated by AAIDD. Non-Members and Members are encouraged to ALSO join the Psych-DD listserv, which is the open membership listserv where everyone can talk to each other without paying dues!
  3. Further goals are to develop effective models for crisis support networks, contribute to a diagnostic framework that is relevant, and accumulate rational approaches to pharmacotherapeutics (medications). There is always room for involvement, a little or a lot, so contact us for more information!
  4. Support for the individual is directed to achieving their desired outcome: improved functioning. Especially for people with co-existing challenges, supports generally need to be comprehensive. Environmental design, acquisition of coping skills, psychopharmacology, motivational contingencies, and responsive crisis systems must all be coordinated, flexible, and efficient.


Vincent M. Chesney ~ 2011-Present
Past Chairs & NADD Liaison
Paul D. Kolstoe, Ph.D. ~ 2005-10
Ann R. Poindexter, M.D. ~ 2001-05

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