Level 2 Mental Health and Wellbeing Training
Factors contributing to mental health problems
The increased prevalence of mental health problems in those with learning disabilities has been attributed to increased biological, psychological and social factors that may predispose, precipitate and perpetuate mental health problems (Deb et al, 2001). These vulnerability factors can affect anyone, but by virtue of their disability, people with learning disabilities are more likely to encounter them. As in the wider population, it is likely that an interaction of factors leads to the development of mental health problems.
✦ Brain damage Although most people with mild learning disabilities do not have brain damage, for some, brain damage may have caused their learning disability. This damage can cause structural and physiological changes to the way the brain functions, increasing vulnerability.
✦ Sensory impairments People with learning disabilities have higher levels of hearing and sight difficulties. This becomes even more apparent in people with more severe learning disabilities or in some genetic syndromes. Sensory impairments are often undiagnosed. Sensory problems can cause a barrier to social integration and lead to disablement.
✦ Physical health problems transitory illness/infections Physical disabilities and illness are increased in people with learning disabilities. They may cause long-term pain or discomfort to the individual – for example, people with Down’s syndrome are prone to chest infections. The effects of physical impairments are exaggerated by a lack of understanding in wider society, such as through poor accessibility to buildings and facilities.
✦ Genetic conditions Some genetic syndromes are risk factors to particular mental health problems. For example, Down’s syndrome greatly increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
✦ Medication People with learning disabilities are likely to receive medication for a variety of physical, neurological and psychiatric reasons. The side effects of medication, particularly when the person is in receipt of two or more psychotropic medications, need to be considered as they can contribute to mental health problems.
✦ Epilepsy Approximately a third of people with learning disabilities have epilepsy. Epilepsy is associated with the symptoms of mental health. Having epilepsy can provoke anxiety in an individual, meaning for example that they avoid going out on their own and become isolated.
✦ Living in inappropriate environments Although the majority of people with learning disabilities live with their families, some older people may have lived in segregated institutions. Others may have lived in residential settings where they had little control and choice in their lives. Such environments may provide little to do, or too much stimulation from noise and the challenging behaviour of others.
✦ Exposure to adverse life events People with learning disabilities are more likely to be exposed to abuse or may have had episodes of bullying and harassment. They are also vulnerable to exploitation and may not be aware of their rights.
✦ Expectations of others Unfortunately, the expectations of those around people with learning disabilities can be low. They can deny opportunities to people with learning disabilities because they feel that they will fail or are too vulnerable. This can mean that people with learning disabilities are not given the opportunity to live as independently as they could do, and can become over-dependent.
✦ Family The majority of carer families provide good support, often under difficult circumstances and with inadequate assistance. The strain of caring for a family member with a learning disability may, however, cause stress or lead to financial hardship. It can affect the family members’ relationships with the individual. Some family members can also be over protective of those with learning disabilities, reducing opportunities for the individual or leading to over-dependence.
✦ Reduced social networks People with learning disabilities often have smaller social networks and as a result are deprived of the support of a wide network. They may lack the skills needed to develop relationships or may only have superficial friendships with the staff that support them. Others may develop abusive relationships or mix with inappropriate peer groups in an attempt to fit in. The lack of positive interactions can lead people with learning disabilities to feel they must try and please others for social reinforcement, leading to unbalanced relationships.
✦ Lower socio-economic groups People with learning disabilities are more likely to be born into and live in lower socio-economic classes. This can make them even more disadvantaged.
✦ Transitions Transitions between services are often poorly managed for people with learning disabilities. Problems often arise when adolescents make the transition into adulthood, with poor communication between child and adult services and bad planning adding to the problem. The individual may feel they have little control or influence over what happens to them.
✦ Discrimination Society has long discriminated against and rejected people with learning disabilities, who are often stigmatised. This can have an impact on their self-esteem and self-image.
✦ Legal disadvantage People with learning disabilities may not be aware of their rights as citizens. They often have to rely on the support of others to be advocates for their needs.
What is depression?
When people are severely depressed, they feel that life has little to offer them and that things will never get better. This low mood is more than being fed-up or unhappy. We can all feel sad from time to time, especially after a recent loss or for no reason at all. Depression is an illness that can be treated and should not be ignored. With skilled help and the chance to talk, most people will recover after several months.
For others it may take longer and the depression may return. Occasionally people feel so hopeless that they think about, or even commit, suicide.
In manic depression or bipolar affective disorder, people will suffer not only from episodes of depression, but also episodes of mania. At these times a person’s mood becomes very ‘high’ and there will be a change in behaviour. The person who is ill may act recklessly, for example spending lots of money and running up large debts.
Who suffers from depression?
At least one person in five will suffer from a depressive illness at some point in their life. It appears to be more common in women than men because women are more likely to seek help than men. It occurs at any age, even in children and young people. Bipolar affective disorder is less common affecting one person in 100 and affects both men and women.
What causes depression?
There are a number of reasons why people become depressed. These may include: reactions to life events and stresses, and genetic or biological factors. Early experiences in life and losses through bereavement or the break-up of a relationship may trigger episodes of depression, and perhaps mania. A number of physical illnesses are also linked with depression, such as infections like influenza, and disorders of the thyroid gland.
What do learners receive?
· Course notes
Number of Attendees
Attendees minimum 6 to maximum 15
This training course is available as in-house training at a venue of your own choice throughout the UK.
All delegates will receive an accredited certificate from Advantage accreditation .
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