The mental health of young people with learning disabilities
Research by Professors Eric Emerson and Chris Hatton from Lancaster University (2007) and funded and published by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents with Learning Disabilities in Britain, highlights that children with learning disabilities are more likely to experience poverty and social exclusion and it is these experiences that lead to a greater risk of mental ill-health.
The report is based on the responses of almost 18,500 children aged between 5 and 15 years old*. It found young people with learning disabilities are more likely to have other disorders in addition to their learning disabilities, such as an autistic spectrum disorder, ADHD or a conduct disorder. They are also likely to have fewer friends than other children in Britain and experience more adverse life events, for example, abuse, bereavement and health problems.
Key findings from the research report
- 33% of children with learning disabilities find it harder than average to make friends
- 25% find it difficult to keep friends
- 14% have no friends
Social circumstances of children with a learning disability
- 47% are living in poverty compared to 30 per cent of all British children
- In 30% of households, neither parent is in employment, compared to 14 per cent of households with children without learning disabilities
- 30% of children with learning disabilities live in a single parent household
Social circumstances of children with a learning disability AND mental health problem
- 53% live in poverty
- 44% have a mother who is likely to have mental health needs herself
- 38% are living in households where neither parent is in employment
- 38% live in a single parent family
Services and support of children with a learning disability AND mental health problem
- 56% of carers said they received helpful support from services. The most helpful source of support was said to come from the child’s teacher (42%)
- 15% of families did not know what support was available
- 6% said services were reluctant or unwilling to see their child
* The experiences of the 18,415 children were taken from two surveys conducted by the Office for National Statistics in 1999 and 2004.