Mental health, learning disabilities and adolescence: a developmental perspective

Angela Hassiotis (Royal Free & University College Medical School, London, UK)
Diana Barron (Psychiatry of Learning Disabilities, Camden Learning Disabilities Service, UK)

Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities

ISSN: 1753-0180

Publication date: 1 September 2007


This article examines the prevalence of mental disorders in a community and clinic population of adolescents with learning disabilities in one catchment area (in the UK). A two stage cross‐sectional survey was used. Measures included screening by parental report (Developmental Behaviour Checklist), adaptive behaviour (Vineland Survey Scale) and clinical interview (ICD 10 childhood disorders).Seventy‐five adolescents aged 12‐19 years old participated in the study. 50.7% screened positive for mental disorders, mainly in the disruptive and anti‐social domains. Almost all of those were found to have an identifiable ICD10 mental disorder. The most common diagnoses included pervasive developmental disorders, hyperkinetic disorder and emotional disorders. Male participants as well as those with autism were more likely to be reported as cases. Caseness was associated with lower adaptive level, presence of autism and family history of mental disorder.Rates of psychopathology are high in adolescents with learning disabilities. There are continuing difficulties in diagnostic ascertainment primarily due to mediation by developmental factors. Further research is necessary in order to clarify continuities of mental disorders in this population and to develop effective interventions.



Hassiotis, A. and Barron, D. (2007), "Mental health, learning disabilities and adolescence: a developmental perspective", Advances in Mental Health and Learning Disabilities, Vol. 1 No. 3, pp. 32-39.

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Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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