Mainstream mental health staff attitudes to supporting people with learning disabilities explored in study


There are more and more examples of mainstream mental health services supporting people with learning disabilities when they have mental health problems. The authors of this cross sectional study were keen to explore whether the attitudes of staff in mainstream mental health services towards people with learning disabilities was in any way negative and whether such attitudes, if they existed, impacted detrimentally on service provision.

They administered a questionnaire to 84 staff from both mainstream and specialist learning disability services designed to investigate attitudes.

What they found was that staff in both services experienced more positive emotions when they worked with clients they were currently employed to work with.

In their analysis of the findings, the researchers to into account the frequency of contact with adults with learning disabilities, the number of individuals worked with and the amount of formal training about learning disability received ad found that there was no significant difference between attitudes of staff in both services.

They also found there were positive correlations between attitude scores and positive emotional experiences in both services.

They conclude that their findings suggest numerous factors, (role of emotional experience; environmental aspect) should be considered when looking at the provision of mental health services to adults with learning disabilities to ensure quality.

Health professionals’ attitudes and emotions towards working with adults with intellectual disability (ID) and mental ill health, Rosen et al in Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 56: 854–864


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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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