The subject of mental health has come to the forefront of today’s current events and emerging research on COVID-19 shows that the coronavirus pandemic has increased psychological distress both in the general population and among high-risk groups. Behaviors such as physical distancing, as well as their social and economic impacts, are worsening mental health consequences. There are unique stressors and challenges that could worsen mental health for people with disabilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

In response to this growing challenge, Ridge Area Arc applied for and received a grant from The Highlands County Hospital District Board of Commissioners. The grant is exclusively for health services in Highlands County and funds non-profit health related programs that provide early medical intervention to avoid more serious later health costs to the county.

“Ridge Area Arc continues to partner with agencies in the community who care about the well-being of the people we serve and the Highlands County Hospital District Board is very supportive of health initiatives for local people with disabilities,” said Kathleen Border, Arc CEO. “Our agency continues to arm ourselves with training that offers solutions for individuals and families with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”

Ridge Area Arc will use these funds to provide for a TACT certified trainer and the necessary “Train the Trainer” curriculum resources. Ruby Harris, Ridge Area Arc case manager and Tiffany Perry, ADT program specialist, have been selected as trainers. Classes will be provided for Arc staff, family members and any healthcare community members who desire training at the agency’s Adult Day Training Center.

What is TACT?

Therapeutic Alternatives in Crisis Training (TACT) provides skills to appropriately deal with behaviors and mental health issues in individuals with intellectual disabilities, such as Autism, and developmental disabilities, such as Down Syndrome, as well as others that are served by Ridge Area Arc. TACT training also provides reactive strategy skills for staff and caregivers. The skills, knowledge, and professional judgment of staff in responding to crises are critical factors in helping individuals learn constructive and adaptive ways to deal with frustration, failure, anger, rejection, hurt, fear and depression.

Ridge Area Arc serves more than 100 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This training will benefit consumers and their families. By providing TACT training in-house, individuals will not be an added burden on the healthcare community. Arc staff will be armed with skills and strategies to handle the unique challenges of a dual diagnosis of behavioral issues and intellectual/developmental disabilities. Ultimately, the need for hospitalization and Baker Acts related to mental health issues will be reduced.

For additional training information and opportunities, please call 863-452-1295.