Masters Thesis

Project plan for IDD and mental illness cross systems in Kern County

Dual diagnosis, two disorders occurring simultaneously was “first identified in the 1980s”. Today the term is most commonly referred to as co-occurring disorder (COD). COD greatly impacts a small number of individuals diagnosed with IDD and mental illness. This rarely recognized vulnerable population often falls through the system cracks of either mental health or developmental agencies. Research contends as individuals with co-existing IDD and mental illness cycle throughout one system unnoticed, undiagnosed and untreated, the end results are staggering for the community. Currently, the systems of mental health and developmental agencies, by design have failed to create a universal service system accessible to Project Bridge, a three-year program for people with IDD and mental illness, thus the system is in need of radical change. However, before initiating change both systems must be open to communication and coordination. Therefore, a three year project similar to North Bay Regional Center has been proposed to improve service delivery. Project Bridge alone cannot fix historical practices that serve as barriers to accessing intensive psychiatric treatment. However, it can serve as a first step to improving collaboration outcomes and structured coordination between Kern County Mental Health and Kern Regional Center. Furthermore bringing awareness to population of individuals overlooked, undertreated or untreated.

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