Children and adults with learning disabilities are more likely to have health problems than the general population. Watch the video, consult our quick read guide, or download the full information sheet.
For children and adults with learning disabilities, problems with mental health often go undetected as the symptoms can be mixed up with the child or adult’s learning disabilities or challenging behaviour.
Types of mental health problems
- Depression: common symptoms include low mood, loss of interest in almost all activities and loss of energy
- Bipolar disorder: periods of depression followed by periods of extreme joy
- Anxiety disorders: common symptoms are a feeling of dread that disrupt everyday life and physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and sweating
- Schizophrenia: common symptoms are seeing, hearing or smelling something that is not really there and believing something which is untrue
Why do mental health problems occur?
Many factors increase the chance of a person developing a mental health problem. These include: having no family and friends, living in poverty, low self-esteem, not having a job, having little control over ones’ life, not having anything to do and poor coping skills.
People with learning disabilities are more likely to experience all the above.
What can be done to improve mental health?
- Recognise the potential problem: children and adults with learning disabilities may not be able to recognise that they have a problem, or seek treatment themselves. This often means that someone else has to recognise that the person is showing signs of a mental health problem. Carers have an important role in recognising possible signs.
- Get the best possible assessment: Many people with learning disabilities have poor verbal communication skills which makes it difficult for them to answer questions about their mental health. Therefore, collecting detailed information from family members and care staff is vital.
- Treatment: Common treatments are:
- Talking therapy
- Educational Interventions