The estimates of prevalence of mental illness in people with a learning disability varies across studies. The authors of this study suggest that up to 50 % may develop significant psychiatric problems at some point in their lives.
The researchers set out to look at ways in which community services for people with learning disabilities and mental health problems should be organised.
They collated details of new referrals made to the mental health of intellectual disability team in Dartford, Kent over a 12-month period and designed a questionnaire to collect information retrospectively about the pathways for each referral.
Over the period, 50 people were referred to the team. The primary source of referral was found to be GPs who referred 58% of the total. 40% of all referrals to the team were considered inappropriate. The majority of these referrals came from adult mental health and child and adolescent mental health service teams.
The authors suggest that the level of inappropriate referrals suggest the need for a much closer liaison with colleagues in other services in the locality to improve understanding of the nature of the service and to improve the quality of referrals.
The study also identified specific areas where such liaison could improve communications.
Referral patterns to a mental health of intellectual disability team, Ajaz A & Eyeoyibo M, in Advances in Mental Health and Intellectual Disabilities, 5, 3, 24-29