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What is a disability?  What is mental illness?

The Americans with Disabilities Act defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity. Disability can include:

  • physical disabilities
  • intellectual disabilities
  • developmental disabilities
  • mental health disabilities across the lifespan. 

With the right supports, many people with disabilities can lead meaningful lives and contribute powerfully to the communities in which they live. NAMI – the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill - defines mental illness as a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily function.  Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life. 

Many Services are Available

There are many services offered to people with mental health issues and disabilities in Dubuque County. Depending on the nature of disability and the supports needed, individuals and families seek support from the system and providers most relevant to their needs. Oftentimes, these services are paid for by Medicaid, by Iowa’s Community Mental Health Block Grant, and by other funding sources.

Dubuque County is also one of nine partners in the East Central Region (ECR) which provides comprehensive mental health and disability services to eastern Iowans, funded by the Community Mental Health Block Grant (federal) funding. This partnership allows individual access to a regional base of services to address many of their needs. The nine counties pool their resources together to provide a core set of services to help improve the health of Iowans living in this region.