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Mental Health Needs of Women with Learning Disabilities: Services can be Organised to Meet the Challenge

Dora Kohen (Lancashire School of Health and Postgraduate Medicine)

Tizard Learning Disability Review

ISSN: 1359-5474

Article publication date: 1 October 2004



Women with learning disabilities have many social, personal and psychological problems that stem from being neglected, as well as from being doubly disadvantaged by their gender and their learning disability. Most of these psychosocial problems are not addressed as they arise, and lead to psychiatric diagnosis and medicalisation of non‐medical issues. It is important to recognise parenting in women with learning disabilities, as well as concerns such as sexual and emotional abuse and violence, and to address them by appropriate agencies. Research suggests that trained mental health staff with a good understanding of gender as well as of disabilities would be able to address the needs before they turn into crises. International and national surveys give a good understanding of where the needs lie and how services could be structured most effectively. Recognition of the problems, a robust gender‐sensitive approach and management skills at community level seem to be most important in dealing with women with learning disabilities. Most women with learning disabilities need local, generic, gender‐sensitive non‐stigmatising services. Only a very small minority of women with behavioural problems will need the highly specialised psychiatric learning disabilities team.


Kohen, D. (2004), "Mental Health Needs of Women with Learning Disabilities: Services can be Organised to Meet the Challenge", Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 12-19.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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