Mental health services for children and adolescents with learning disabilities: a review of research on experiences of service users and providers

Peer-reviewed article
(2015 Aug) British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 44 225-232


Jacobs, Dr Myrthe and Melville, Professor Craig


Background: Children and young people with learning disabilities experience high rates of mental health problems. Methods: The present study reviewed the literature on mental health services for children with learning disabilities, to identify known models of service provision and what has been experienced as effective or challenging in providing good services. Results: Children with learning disabilities and their parents experience barriers accessing mental health services that are related to a lack of information and perceptions of services as being inadequate. Service providers identified a lack of resources as a barrier to meeting needs. Although positive experiences are also observed, many parents have found services to be inappropriate or overwhelming. Conclusion: Research linking population need to available resources, and service models to services users’ outcomes would be valuable to make clear recommendations on how mental health services can address the needs of this group more effectively.