Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Tizard Learning Disability Review, Volume 20, Issue 2.
The main articles in the current issue all address issues of importance in services for people with learning disabilities. Perhaps even more than the rest of us, people with learning disabilities sometimes get depressed and need help, support and treatment to overcome this. Caroline Jennings and Olivia Hewitt review the evidence on the use of cognitive behavioural therapy to treat depression. Not unexpectedly, the evidence is rather limited, reflecting the frequent exclusion of people with learning disabilities from mainstream mental health services and research. Jennings and Hewitt make a number of useful recommendations for expanding and improving research in this area and Peter Langdon comments on aspects of the exclusion issue, noting a number of issues that may be contributing to it.
The notion of “culture” is not always easy to pin down but is often identified as a target for change. Robin Miller's article provides a very interesting account of an attempt to change the culture in an inpatient unit for men with learning disabilities and mental health problems. This might be regarded as an unpromising venture. But Miller shows how it was possible, through the establishment of a self-advocacy group, to identify a variety of ways in which aspects of the culture had changed. Rob Greig's commentary draws attention to the wider roles of advocacy and self-advocacy and how direct experience of people with learning disabilities standing up for themselves and saying what they want and need can change attitudes radically.
Good self-advocacy needs to be well informed. This can only happen if information is presented in ways that are accessible to the individuals involved. Clare Mander's article demonstrates some of the complexities of developing and implementing accessible information from a number of different perspectives including that of people with learning disabilities themselves. It is very easy to produce an “easy read” summary and tick the box for accessibility and we should all know by now that accessibility is about much more than this. Susan Buell's commentary emphasises how much more it should be. In particular, she emphasises the developmental nature of building understanding, a task with which we very rarely engage (but see Cook and Inglis, 2012).
I note with regret the recent death of Barbara Tizard (1926-2015). Barbara Tizard was an eminent developmental psychologist in her own right (see obituary at www.theguardian.com/education/2015/jan/13/barbara-tizard). She was also, however, married to Jack Tizard (1919-1979) after whom the Tizard Centre and this journal were named. Barbara was very supportive of the Tizard Centre and joined us at a number of events in the 1990s. She also co-edited a posthumous tribute (Clarke and Tizard, 1983) to her husband which contained Jack Tizard's most notable contributions, including many examples of his pioneering work on learning disability.
Clarke, A.D.B. and Tizard, B. (1983), Child Development and Social Policy: The Life and Work of Jack Tizard, British Psychological Society, Leicester
Cook, T. and Inglis, P. (2012), “Participatory research with men with learning disability: informed consent”, Tizard Learning Disability Review, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 92-101