Intellectual / Developmental Disability (IDD) & Mental Health Supports - Complex Needs Initiative

Alberta Health Services, in partnership with the Government of Alberta, Disability Services – Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD), are working together to help adults with an intellectual/developmental disability and mental health concern/illness plus complex service needs receive the care they need through a coordinated and integrated support system.

It is both Alberta Health Service’s and the Alberta Government’s goal to make sure adults with dual diagnoses and complex service needs are supported.

What is CSN?

What are complex service needs?

Complex Service Needs

For the purpose of this Initiative, Adults with Complex Service Needs are defined as, individuals who are 18 or older and have a developmental/intellectual disability. They are eligible for services from the PDD program, as well as those services from other ministries which are available to all Albertans. These adults pose a significant risk, and/or are destructive, to themselves, others or property. They require intensive services and have, or have had a history of one or more of the following diagnoses or life experiences:

  • Mental health disorder
  • Terminations from other social support services
  • Specialized treatment for psychiatric and/or behavioural issues
  • Multi-system involvement (example Corrections, Health, Human Services etc.)
  • Incarceration(s) or criminal justice involvement
  • Chronic substance abuse/dependency problems

Additional links for more information

Community Support Teams

Community Support Teams (CST) combine Alberta Health Services and PDD staff who specialize in helping individuals with a dual diagnosis (intellectual/developmental disability and mental health concern/illness) and complex service needs. Each team is uniquely constructed according to each regional need and may include clinicians such as mental health therapist, psychologist, nurse, occupational therapist, behaviour therapist, social worker, therapy assistant or others as determined by regional requirements. All referrals are received and forwarded to the correct team through the local/regional PDD office or contact the team in your area.

News & Newsletters
Education & Resources



Learning Events

Learning Events

The Complex Needs Initiative hosts or promotes Learning Events focused on important skills for front line service provider staff to deliver excellent services for individuals with complex service needs.

Email for further information or to request your event be placed on this website.

Resources from Past Workshops or Learning Events

Trauma Informed Services for Individuals with Complex Needs
Dr. Karyn Harvey presented best practice methods from a trauma informed perspective, how to help and what to do.

Paper Tigers Documentary Film Screening
This documentary film demonstrates how complex trauma can affect brain development and the positive effects of trauma informed care and practices. This event has now passed however this documentary film on DVD is available to borrow.  Contact to request the material.

Harm Reduction in a complex Dual Diagnosis population
Harm reduction philosophy, techniques and strategies when engaging with at-risk complex clients.

Sensory Processing Resources

Kim Barthel presented a workshop on September 15 to a provincial audience and shared many internet accessible resources.  A summary document contains the original powerpoint and the many resources that were shown or were referenced during the presentation.

Cultural Competencies
Enhance and develop skills to better understand and embrace cultural diversity in the community service sector.