IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines

IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines

Funded by the WITH Foundation

WITH Foundation Logo featuring two hand silhouettes together to look like bird wings



L. Jarrett Barnhill, MD, DFAPA, FAACAP, Joan B. Beasley, PhD, and Andrea Caoili, LCSW


Integrated Mental Health Treatment Guidelines for Prescribers in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities offers an overview of integrated health and psychopharmacological guidelines in the treatment of patients with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Prior to the development of this guide, a series of focus groups was conducted with individuals with lived experience, family members, clinicians, and prescribers. Focus group responses were analyzed and used to inform the development of the guide’s content and vet accompanying resources.

The editors would like to thank all contributors: persons with IDD and mental health service experiences, family members, and an interdisciplinary group of experts in IDD, including members of the National START Medical Directors (MD) Practice Group. The MD group is organized and facilitated by Center for START Services (CSS) at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability/UCED. 

The development of The IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines (as this guide has come to be called) and accompanying resources was made possible with funding from the WITH Foundation and was field tested prior to publication. The aim of the editors is to continue to expand upon this foundation and provide additional best practice content to prescribers with periodic updates. All feedback is welcome.

How to Use These Guidelines

The IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines offer content on specific topic areas with regard to best practices in the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with IDD/ASD and mental health needs. Within each section, readers will find case vignettes and resources referenced for additional information.

The sections in this guide are:

  1. The Lived Experience Perspective: Working with Patients and Supporters
  2. Psychiatric Assessment Considerations
  3. Medical Assessment Considerations
  4. Best Practices in MH Diagnosis and Treatment
  5. Prescribing in Mental Health Crises

The recommendations presented here are based on the most current scientific evidence, including a broad review of international literature. In some instances, the information may differ from prescribers’ current practice, reflecting advances in the field. The resources to accompany this guide are diverse and comprehensive. Relevant journal articles, texts and other writings are provided at the end of each section and a full list of references can be found at the conclusion of guide.


Disclaimer: All medication should be used with caution and should not be used as primary frontline treatment. The IDD-MH Prescriber Guidelines is not a diagnostic tool or textbook. It provides general guidance with regard to evidence-based best practices in prescribing.