Guest editorial

Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities

ISSN: 2044-1282

Article publication date: 28 October 2014



Hall, I. and Soni, S. (2014), "Guest editorial", Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Vol. 8 No. 6.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, Volume 8, Issue 6

Dr Ian Hall is a Consultant Psychiatrist and Dr Sujata Soni is a ST5 in Psychiatry of Intellectual Disability, both are based at East London NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.

This special issue focuses on the teaching, education and training of a wide range of professionals working both in and outside the field of intellectual disabilities. The need for furthering our own development and in turn educating others on issues relating to the care of people with intellectual disabilities has become increasing apparent to us, not only since the exposure of systematic abuse and neglect in Winterbourne View (CIPOLD, 2013), but also through our day to day practice. Indeed the 2008 Department of Health report, Healthcare for All (Michael and Richardson, 2008), recommended that intellectual disabilities be included as part of undergraduate and postgraduate training for all healthcare professionals.

In this issue we aim to demonstrate how innovative teaching methods are being used in a variety of settings to help raise awareness of the problems faced by people with intellectual disabilities and how we can improve the quality of care we provide for them. We also explore the lessons we can learn from our service users and how people with intellectual disabilities can be an invaluable part of our own training and assessment.

We are grateful to Iona Campbell, a final year medical student at Dundee University and winner of the Professor Joan Bicknell medical student essay prize, who has given us permission to publish her thought-provoking essay in this issue in which she speaks about her experiences of meeting people with intellectual disabilities and their families during a self-selected clinical placement and the impact this had on her. It is noteworthy that Iona mentions that should she not have specifically chosen that placement, she may never have encountered a person with intellectual disabilities throughout her medical training. This raises the important issue of how face-to-face contact with people with intellectual disabilities during professional training can serve to raise disability awareness and reduce stigma. The paper by Harwood and Hassiotis reinforces this idea and explains how an undergraduate curriculum has been re-designed in order to tackle stigmatizing attitudes and enhance learning. In keeping with this idea, Soni et al. describe the use of actors with intellectual disabilities in the assessment of trainee psychiatrists and discuss the merits of service user involvement in teaching and training.

This issue also includes papers from further afield: McConkey et al. describes the development of a training program for community nurses in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia who provide support to families with children with developmental disabilities; and Razza and colleagues provide an American perspective on the paucity of training there for psychologists on mental health problems occurring in people with intellectual disabilities and make proposals on how current educational opportunities could be improved.

Two papers address the issue of education of staff in general hospitals which was so vividly brought to our attention by Mencap's report, Death by Indifference (Mencap, 2007). Walsh et al. discuss the benefits of integrating the services of learning disability liaison nurses and the liaison psychiatry RAID model to best meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities when they present to a general hospital and describe how training of general hospital staff can help achieve better outcomes. This is followed by a case study by Walder and colleagues which illustrates the problems that people with intellectual disabilities and mental health problems can encounter when they are admitted to general hospitals and the delays they can face in accessing appropriate treatment.

We hope that you enjoy the selection of papers in this special issue and hope that they may provoke further thoughts on how we can continue to develop our own skills and those of others in order to best meet the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

Ian Hall and Sujata Soni


CIPOLD (2013), “Confidential inquiry into premature deaths of people with learning disabilities final report”, University of Bristol, available at: (accessed 12 September 2014)

Mencap (2007), “Death by indifference”, available at: (accessed 12 September 2014)

Michael, J. and Richardson, A. (2008), “Healthcare for all: the independent inquiry into access to healthcare for people with learning disabilities”, Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 28-34

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