A new report from the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities and Lancaster University, UK, has found that children with learning disabilities are six times more likely to have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder than other children in Britain.
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.
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.
Although this review of data was conducted in Great Britain, there are a lot of things that we can take away from this. Most importantly, we should consider learning disabilities as co-occurring with other forms of pathology.