Improvements in psychological well-being in parents with learning disabilities can be achieved by improvements in social support


Adults with learning disabilities who become parents face a range of challenges in addition to those faced by their non-disabled peers. As adults with disabilities, they are more likely to be socially isolated and at risk of poor psychological well-being and the added pressure of parenthood can magnify these risks.

The authors of the current review set out to look at the psychological well-being and social support among parents with learning disabilities The authors use Sterling’s “determinants of parenting” model to discuss their findings.

A systematic search of electronic databases identified 8 studies which met the inclusion criteria. The findings suggest that parents with learning disabilities experience poorer psychological well-being than parents in the general population.
The authors also found a relationship between psychological well-being and social support.
They found two intervention studies with evidence of improvements in psychological well-being achieved by improvements in social support.

Another interesting finding was that the relationship between social support and parenting ability was supported by findings of a positive relationship between satisfaction with social support and positive maternal reactions.

The authors also make a number of recommendations for further research to explore the relationship between psychological well-being and social support.

Psychological Well-Being and Social Support for Parents With Intellectual Disabilities: Risk Factors and Interventions, Darbyshire, L. & Stenfert Kroese, B., in Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 9: 40–52.

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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