Mental Health of Children with Learning Disabilities

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Children and young people with learning disabilities are at greater risk of developing mental health problems as compared with their peers.

Emerson and Hatton (2007) report that 36% of children and young people with learning disabilities will have a mental health problem, compared with 8 % of non-disabled children.

The risk factors that contribute are usually a mix of those within the child (IQ, genetic influences, physical illness and communication difficulties) and from external sources (socio-economic disadvantage, discrimination, loss and family breakdown).  


The Foundation has undertaken a great deal of work in this area, including:

  • What About Us?: a programme of action research conducted in nine secondary schools and colleges, with a focus on emotional well-being

  • Count Us In: a one year UK-wide inquiry that has since helped shape mental health provision and services for young people in England

  • Making Us Count: a programme of research which aimed to identify and improve mental health support through projects with young people, their family and carers

  • We Are The Strongest Link: a peer support training pack that aids young people with learning disabilities with the transition from school to adult life

  • The Mental Health Of Children And Adolescents With Learning Disabilities In Britain: a publication funded by the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities which highlights that children with learning disabilities are at a greater risk of mental ill-health

  • Friends for Life - Learning Disabilities: we are working with Clinical Psychologist Rowena Rossiter to adapt the FRIENDS for Life programme for use with children with Learning Disabilities.