A Message from Pathfinder’s Communications Manager

Dear Pathfinder Pals,

It’s May already, can you believe it? May is chock-full of celebratory events including Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Lupus Awareness Month, and Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month, just to name a few.

Every May, the Administration for Community Living (ACL) leads the nation’s observance of Older Americans Month (OAM). The theme for 2024 is “Powered by Connection,” which recognizes the profound impact that meaningful relationships and social connections have on the health and well-being of older adults. It also explores the vital role that connectedness plays in supporting independence and aging in place by combatting isolation, loneliness, and other issues.

Also, did you know that May is National Pet Month? Follow us on our social media as we share some of our favorite pets throughout the month It always brings me joy when we can show love to our pet friends while spreading awareness about the differences between pets and service, emotional support, and therapy animals. And in this life, finding joy is not often easy for some. So celebrate your animals if you want, it’s okay! I’ll be loving on my little furry friend for sure.

That leads me to the focus of this issue of The Compass

During May, we shine a light on a topic that is not widely discussed or is often considered taboo, Mental Health. Mental Health is just as important as physical health—yet it is often ignored or misunderstood. Part of the reason for this is that mental illness can be harder to see than physical illness, making it a hidden disability. But just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. So Mental Health Month (or Mental Health Awareness Month) brings attention to mental health issues and helps reduce the stigma associated with matters of mental health.

Even more overlooked is the dual diagnosis of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) and Mental Health. After research and discussions, it became apparent to our information & referral specialists that this was an area of concern for those we serve in the I/DD community. Therefore, this month we decided to focus the newsletter on mental health, and in light of the limited number of resources identified that focus on the dual diagnosis of I/DD and Mental Health, we also wanted to spotlight a new collaboration between Tennessee Disability Pathfinder and the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ (DIDD) Developmental Disabilities Planning and Policy Council (DDPPC).

In this issue of our newsletter, we are excited to share resource information on these important awareness efforts and actions taken to assist members of the disability community. From the merging of two state agencies to a wellness recovery action plan, and a future resource guide that helps people with a dual diagnosis of I/DD and Mental Health, this issue is full of things that matter, because You Matter! We hope that you find the information helpful in assisting you on your path to community services that fit your needs.

Wishing you all a Healthy and Happy Summer!

Sheena Adams-Avery, CDT, CDP
Communications Manager
Certified Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Trainer
Tennessee Disability Pathfinder