Supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health issues: service users’ experiences
evidence and practice    

Supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health issues: service users’ experiences

Paul Sutton Visiting Fellow, Learning Disabilities, College of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare, University of West London, Brentford, London England
Maria Cozens Nurse Lecturer Mental Health, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England
Chiedza Kudita Lecturer in Nursing and Public Involvement, College of Nursing, Midwifery and Healthcare, University of West London, Brentford, London, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand how a person with learning disabilities may express their mental health issues

  • To gain insight into the thoughts and feelings of people with learning disabilities and coexisting mental health issues

  • To recognise the level of care and support required by people with learning disabilities and mental health issues

Background Minimal research has been undertaken into the views of service users with learning disabilities and mental health issues on the care and support they receive.

Aim To actively involve adult service users with a learning disability in improving the understanding of service providers, practitioners and carers of the service users’ experiences of mental healthcare.

Method A psychosocial research approach was employed to support the involvement of seven service users with learning disabilities who live in community settings. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with all seven participants to produce data relating to their views on the mental health care they had received. Data were also obtained from consultations with carers and from patient records kept by service providers.

Findings Participants often associated their mental health issues with stressful life events, were reviewed regularly and treated by psychiatrists for mental health issues. They were often able to express their thoughts and feelings about their mental health issues, while some of the participants were also aware of being involved in decisions about their care. The data also showed an increased awareness among service providers, practitioners and carers of the mental health and emotional issues experienced by individuals with learning disabilities, particularly following implementation of the policy of community care and resettlement of service users from long-stay hospitals.

Conclusion The participants’ data showed the diverse negative experiences and events experienced by people with learning disabilities related to the recognition of their need for mental health care. Some of the findings reflect those of other studies. Future recommendations include further research into the perspectives of people with coexistent learning disabilities and mental health issues.

Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2020.e2037

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

paulsutton21@btinternet.com

Conflict of interest

None declared

Sutton P, Cozens M, Kudita C (2020) Supporting people with learning disabilities and mental health issues: service users’ experiences. Learning Disability Practice. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2020.e2037

Published online: 04 June 2020

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