Mental Health of Children with Learning Disabilities


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.