The Autism and Mental Health Initiative is a collaborative effort between families, individuals and family focused agencies to raise awareness of the mental health needs of people on the autism spectrum and bring the necessary state, federal, and county resources together to create appropriate mental health care services.
Autistic Mental Health
Autism is not a mental illness. Autism is classified as a neurodevelopmental disorder. Autistic people can, and do, develop mental illnesses. When they do they, and their families, need access to appropriate care and the support of clinicians trained in the mental health needs of people on the autism spectrum.
The lack of understanding that autistic people can also experience mental illness often leads to a breakdown in support and service delivery. The lives and the mental health of autistic people and their families matter. We can choose to do better.
Families need the support of coordination between state agencies, health care providers, mental health care providers, social services, schools, and nonprofit agencies.
Their lives are more than worth the investment of breaking the silo mentality that stifles innovative outreach to families and individuals who need support in accessing mental health care.
Research indicates that clinicians (psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, etc.) are willing but ill-equipped to meet the mental health care needs of autistic people. Primary care physicians, pediatricians, and their staff are also ill-equipped to connect families to any services that may exist in their communities.
In Onondaga County of New York state, there is 1 mental health clinician for every 202 residents. An apparatus for connecting these clinicians to resources for providing appropriate mental health care to autistic people does not yet exist.