Section A Introduction
What is a mental health need?
The NHS defines mental illness as a condition that significantly interferes with an individual’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities (e.g. depression, anxiety, schizophrenia).
People with a learning disability, autism or both are just as likely to have mental health problems as the rest of society, with a lot of research suggesting that they are more likely to suffer from mental illness. Yet their problems often go unnoticed because the symptoms can be lost amongst other behaviours that they may display. This is known as ‘diagnostic overshadowing‘ because everything is put down to the person’s learning disability. It is essential to be aware of potential mental health problems and to ask for assessment as soon as possible.
For more information on the links between learning disabilities, mental health and challenging behaviour, see the CBF information sheet: Mental health problems in people with learning disabilities.