DMH hosts IDD Day at the Capitol on April 6

DMH hosts IDD Day at the Capitol on April 6

The Mississippi Department of Mental Health is celebrating Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Awareness Month at the annual IDD “Day at the Capitol” on April 6, 2016 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the State Capitol.

The goal of the event is to increase the public’s knowledge and awareness of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and how they participate and contribute to their communities. Service providers will be available at the event to provide additional information.

“We have been working to build a statewide system that promotes and encourages person-centered services and supports, and I encourage all Mississippians to learn more about this,” DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula said.

“We want to support a better tomorrow for individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability, and our supporters and partners in the community are helping us make great strides in realizing that vision each and every day.”

Intellectual and developmental disabilities cover a broad range of often misunderstood characteristics. An intellectual disability is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and challenges in a variety of everyday social and practical skills. A developmental disability is attributed to a cognitive or physical impairment that results in the need for supports in areas such as personal care, communication, and independent living.

More than 41,000 fellow Mississippians live with intellectual or developmental disabilities, affecting numerous members of their families, friends and their communities. Under the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the state operates six IDD programs – Boswell Regional Center in Magee, Ellisville State School in Ellisville, Hudspeth Regional Center in Whitfield, Mississippi Adolescent Center in Brookhaven, North Mississippi Regional Center in Oxford and South Mississippi Regional Center in Long Beach.

These programs are also a primary vehicle for delivering services in the community, helping to offer each and every Mississippian the choice of living where they would like to and having the opportunity to live to their full potential.

Governor Phil Bryant recently declared March as Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month, noting that people with disabilities, their families, friends and neighbors encourage everyone to focus on the abilities of all people.

“The most effective way to increase this awareness is through everyone’s active participation in community activities and the openness to learn and acknowledge each individual’s own contribution,” the proclamation reads.

Renee Brett, DMH Bureau Director for IDD Services, said raising awareness for disabilities and people living with them can aid in connecting people to their communities.

“People with and without disabilities can come together, working side by side to help form strong and diverse communities,” Brett said. “Everyone has a contribution to make to their community.

“We encourage everyone to join us on April 6 at the Capitol to learn how they can make or support a contribution.”