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

The Tennessee START Assessment and Stabilization Teams will be based in Memphis, Jackson, Chattanooga, Nashville and Knoxville, and cover multiple counties in each region.

The teams will provide the following services:

  • 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 can be made on the TN START AST website. Once a referral is received, staff will work with eligible individuals and their service/support team to conduct an assessment of the needs of the person. That assessment will be used to develop a crisis prevention and intervention plan. The team will also provide training and support for the individual and their system of care.

“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.”

“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.”

At this time, this service is available to people that are enrolled in the 1915(c) waivers and Employment and Community First CHOICES program. In the future, DIDD plans to make this service available to all persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities age 6 and up.