People with learning disabilities are under-supported to live mentally healthy lives

  • Foundation for people with learning disabilities logoPeople with learning disabilities are 3 times more likely to develop poor mental health than the general population
  • Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities calls for equality in mental health services

Today the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities is launching Feeling Down: Improving the mental health of people with learning disabilities, a report revealing that people with learning disabilities are continuing to struggle to access mental health support and services.

Despite various initiatives to reduce stigma in mental health, several barriers still stand in the way of people with a dual diagnosis being inclusively and appropriately supported.
The report aims to promote positive mental health by offering information, case studies and real life experiences of people with learning disabilities and their families, along with strategies and practical advice for enhancing their mental wellbeing.

The launch today in the House of Lords is hosted by Professor Sheila the Baroness Hollins.

Baroness Hollins said:

“We know that the majority of people who have mental health problems including anxiety and depression do not receive such prompt and comprehensive care as they do for physical health conditions, and timely access to mental health services is even worse for people with learning disabilities.

“This report and the accompanying resources provide a wake-up call to policy makers, commissioners, regulators, professional bodies and providers.”

Jenny Edwards CBE, CEO of the Mental Health Foundation said:

“People with learning disabilities should have equality in the campaign for good mental health services for everybody.  The most vulnerable people are being let down.

“The report highlights that despite the fact that 20-40% of people with learning disabilities experience a mental health problem, it appears that little is being done to promote mental health to their families and front line staff.

“The report draws attention to the fact that access to mental health services, assessment and treatment for this group of people needs to be improved.” 

Christine Koulla Burke from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, and author of the report, said:

“There is more to accessing mental health services when considering the needs of people with learning disabilities.  The first being that their symptoms are recognised and they are believed.

“It is time that commissioners, Health and Wellbeing Boards and CCGs took responsibility for equality in practice and delivery of services to ensure accessible, inclusive and valuable psychological support is available for all individuals with learning disabilities.”

As part of the campaign, the Foundation is also launching an easy read guide for people with learning disabilities (Feeling Down: Looking after my mental health) to support them to look after their mental health. The guide was developed in partnership with people with learning disabilities who felt strongly that they wanted more control of their own mental health and wellbeing and something that they can use to help them explain their feelings to GP’s.

A parent involved in the project said: “This guide is easy to understand, it is clear something like it should be made available to every person when they register at a GP practice and can be used to support health planning which rarely includes mental health”

The Feeling Down report and easy read guide are available to download free.

The Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities is the directorate of the Mental Health Foundation dedicated to helping people with learning disabilities live their lives to the full. www.learningdisabilities.org.uk

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