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World Mental Health Day 2021

Posted by Devon Partnership Trust in Learning disability, Mental health, News on 8th October, 2021

We mark World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October and the theme this year is 'Mental Health in an Unequal World'.

It is hoped this year's theme will help to open up meaningful conversation about how mental health care can rise to the challenge of meeting the needs of communities with equity, giving everyone a better chance at improved access to necessary care and treatment, and better mental health, whatever their background or circumstances.

Katy WelshHere Katy Welsh, Learning Disability Senior Manager explains about the challenges faced by those with a learning disability and a mental health need.

Between 25% and 40% of people with learning disabilities also experience mental health problems. Most individuals with a mild learning disability will be able to access mainstream mental health services without any additional support or reasonable adjustments needed.

Some individuals may need reasonable adjustments that could include longer appointments, easy read / accessible information or may need to be accompanied by someone who knows them well who can help to facilitate the appointment. Public services have a legal requirement to make reasonable adjustments in line with the Equality Act.

People with learning disabilities demonstrate the complete spectrum of mental health problems, with higher prevalence than found in those without learning disabilities.

  • The prevalence of dementia is much higher amongst older adults with learning disabilities compared to the general population and people with Down’s syndrome are at particularly high risk of developing dementia, with an age of onset 30-40 years younger than the general population.
  • Prevalence rates for schizophrenia in people with learning disabilities are approximately three times greater than for the general population (3% vs 1%).
  • Prevalence rates for anxiety and depression amongst people with learning disabilities vary widely, but are generally reported to be at least as prevalent as the general population and higher amongst people with Down’s syndrome.

Within Devon Partnership Trust, learning disability services are able to provide advice and support to mental health colleagues regarding reasonable adjustments that may be required and also offer a consultation service to inpatient services for more complex clinical case discussions. 

The learning disability service also have a Dementia care pathway for those individuals with learning disabilities would be unable to access mainstream dementia pathway despite reasonable adjustments being made.

We hope this year's World Mental Health Day will bring to light the inequalities many people face in their experience of mental ill health and mental healthcare.

Useful resources:

Government (2010) – Equality Act 2010.
Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities
Green Light Toolkit (NDTi, 2017)
Intellectual Disability and Health: Alzheimer’s Dementia: What you need to know, what you need to do.
Mencap – Learning Disabilities and Mental Health
NICE Guidance (2016) Mental Health Problems in People with Learning Disabilities: Prevention, Assessment and Management

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