Services for individuals who live with co-existing intellectual disabilities and a mental illness.

Developmental disabilities mental health services (DDMHS) provides specialized mental health community services for ages 12 and over who live with co-existing intellectual disabilities and a mental illness. The person may also struggle with behavioural challenges.

Based on an individual’s assessment, our specialized team of mental health care professionals will offer you the services and supports that best suit the individual’s needs. We work with the person and their support network for up to 18 months. We do this so they can get the most from our services and have a long-lasting recovery.

We serve people who:

  • Are 12 years or older
  • Have an intellectual disability
  • Are experiencing mental health concerns and/or complex, challenging behaviours
  • Live in the Fraser Health or Vancouver Coastal Health regions

View the program brochure.

Once accepted into our program, we assess and treat mental health conditions and complex, challenging behaviours. We create a plan of care for each person. This could include therapy, medicine, education and referrals to other care services.

Our other services and supports might also include:

  • Group therapy sessions
  • Advice for family doctors, nurse practitioners and other health professionals
  • Education for support networks
  • Support for community services
  • Psychiatric assessment and treatment

    A psychiatrist meets with the client and caregivers to assess their mental health, and provide diagnostic clarification and treatment recommendations. Treatment may include medications and/or other therapies, as well as resource recommendations and advocacy. See below for services that are considered during the treatment planning stage.

    Initial assessments with our psychiatrists are typically done in-person at our clinic or a satellite clinic. They are usually two hours long, and we encourage clients and their networks to bring an updated medication list, data collection sheets and other relevant information. Follow up appointments follow a hybrid manner - online via Zoom or in-person – this is up to the discretion of the treatment team and the client/network preference.

  • Counselling services

    Our counsellors may meet individuals one-on-one to help them understand and build skills to cope with any challenges they may be experiencing. The therapist helps the individual understand how negative thought patterns may be affecting their mood, and learn how to make positive changes in their thoughts and behaviours. Caregivers are also included in the therapy process (with consent) to provide education, consistency and support skill building between sessions.

  • Art therapy

    Art therapy, sometimes called creative arts therapy or expressive arts therapy, encourages people to express and understand emotions through artistic expression and through the creative process. This may be a service option that is determined during the treatment planning process.

  • Behavioural services

    • Behavioural assessment and therapy
      A behavioural assessment could include data collection (gathering information in a systematic way), a functional assessment (questioning what function the maladaptive behaviour is serving for the client) and an environmental assessment (looking at how environmental factors are causing or maintaining the maladaptive behaviour).
    • Psychological services
      Our behavioural psychologist helps individuals adjust their behaviours to be less harmful, while still allowing them to express their needs. Our psychologist does not perform psychological testing for intelligence.
  • Education and group services

    Our education and training services support individuals with a mild intellectual disability and mental illness, as well as family members, caregivers, community partners and other professionals.

    Group services eligibility:

    • Have a mild intellectual disability (IQ 50-70)
    • Be age 19 years or older
    • Be treated/under doctor’s supervision if they have any psychiatric diagnosis
    • Be able to participate in a group discussions
    • Be able to attend all sessions unless ill

    Our education groups include:

    Dealing with feelings of anxiety or depression groups

    There are two different groups to support individuals who are experiencing feelings of anxiety or depression; one for individuals and one for caregivers.

    Participants will learn how to:

    • Feel more relaxed.
    • Express and understand anxious and depressed feelings.
    • Be more calm and cope better with feelings of anger, fear and sadness.

    Families and support people will learn how to:

    • Best support their loved ones/clients as they learn to manage their feelings more effectively.
    • Put newly learned skills into practice with their loved ones/clients.
    • Support their loved ones/clients to use the skills they have learned to help them to successfully manage feelings.

    Healthy relationships group

    Participants will learn about social skills; talk about dating, friendships and how to be safe in these relationships, in a relaxed, conversational atmosphere.

    Sexual health group

    Participants will learn about important sexual health information through discussions about what sex is, personal choice and responsibilities of sexual relationships, emphasizing individuals’ safety and consent. 

How do I access these services?

To access our services, it depends on the age of the person needing help.

All referrals to DDMHS require a recent physical examination and approval by the individual’s family doctor or nurse practitioner.

Expect us to ask for the following:

  • A completed referral form
  • A copy of a recent physical exam
  • Approval from the family doctor or nurse practitioner
  • A copy of a completed psychological report

For youth 12 to 18 years of age

The request must come through the Child and Youth with Special Needs Program (CYSN) in Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD). The youth team is funded by MCFD.

A psychological evaluation (for example, the person's level of understanding and processing information) is required before the person comes to our program. This testing is not done by our program. Psychological testing/evaluation can be done through the following agencies:

For people 19 years of age and older

Any of these people can ask for our services:

  • Persons with intellectual disabilities
  • Families, caregivers or other support persons
  • Community Living BC staff
  • Family doctors and nurse practitioners
  • Health professionals in hospitals and mental health centres

Referral forms



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