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Mental Health and Behavioral Challenges

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) today released the latest issue of the Positive Approaches Journal, which aims to provide the most recent research and resources for people with mental health and behavioral challenges, intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities to live an everyday life. This edition focuses on sexuality and connectedness.

“Part of DHS’ mission is to ensure that people, regardless of disability, have the resources and information they need to live an everyday life. But too often, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities do not receive the support or education they need to be safe and healthy while exploring and experiencing social connections and sexuality,” said Acting DHS Secretary Meg Snead. “We hope that this edition of the Positive Approaches Journal will provide some of those resources and will chip away at myths and misconceptions about socialization and sexuality within the disability community.”

This edition features research and articles on the following:

  • Embracing Inclusion: Prioritizing LGBTQIA+ Inclusion for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: This article outlines the barriers and lack of supports that LGBTQIA+ people with disabilities face and emphasizes the importance of recognizing the needs of people who live at the intersection of these two identities.
  • Responding to the Victimization of Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities and Autism: This article details how sexual education and resources for people with disabilities can improve relationships and reduce the risk of victimization.
  • Detangling Sexuality Information: Misinformation, Confusion or Hope: This article outlines the importance of comprehensive sexual education, as lack of such education can create a dangerous lack of understanding of consequences and a misinterpretation of sexual nuances.
  • Approaching Sexuality in Service Spaces: An Invitation to Deeper Inquiry: This article explores ways both behavioral health providers and clients can express vulnerability in discussing sexuality and the sensitivities that surround it.
  • Building a Socially Fulfilling Life with a Mental Health Diagnosis: A Firsthand Perspective: A Certified Peer Specialist’s personal story of how helping others in managing their mental health was a crucial part of understanding social needs and their own recovery.
  • Social Skills for the “Real World”: Lessons Learned from the Autism Services, Education, Resources and Training (ASERT) Social Skills Groups: This article highlights research on effective social skills intervention methods to help caretakers address identified challenges for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The journal is a collaboration of DHS’ Office of Developmental Programs and Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and collects resources, observations, and advancements in mental and behavioral health in order to better serve people with dual diagnoses in their communities.

Read this edition of the Positive Approaches Journal.

For more information visit DHS’ website.