New Report Says Poverty And Social Exclusion Increases Risk Of Mental Illness In Young People With Learning Disabilities
According to The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents with Learning Disabilities in Britain, the increased risk of mental illness is not always caused by a young person's learning disability, but instead because of exposure to greater poverty and social exclusion than experienced by non-disabled children.
The report, based on the experiences of over 18,000 children aged between 5 and 15 years old**, says that one in three (33 per cent) children with learning disabilities are likely to have a mother with mental health needs and nearly half are living in poverty (47 per cent). Young people with learning disabilities also have fewer friends than other children living in Britain and are more likely to suffer abuse and be involved in serious accidents.
Eric Emerson, the report's author, says: "It is no surprise that children with learning disabilities experience higher rates of mental illness when they are much more likely to be exposed to poverty, social exclusion and challenging family environments than their non-disabled peers. If the mental health of young people with learning disabilities is to be improved, the Government must take steps to address the social circumstances under which this vulnerable group is living."
While the report found that children with learning disabilities are at an increased risk of mental illness than other children in Britain, nearly half (44 per cent) of the families surveyed said they did not receive sufficient help from medical professionals, social workers or mental health services.
Alison Giraud-Saunders, Co-Director of the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, says: "The Foundation is currently working with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to ensure that those with learning disabilities get the support they need. But services still have a long way to go - we need schools, primary care, local communities and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to work together to prevent mental ill-health and support this vulnerable group."
Read the report, The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents with Learning Disabilities in Britain, at http://www.learningdisabilities.org.uk
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